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Steelcase Study: Soft worksurface edges improve productivity

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Desk workers are susceptible to not only carpal tunnel syndrome, which reports say affect 2m people, but also arm, shoulder and neck fatigue. Resting forearms on the hard edges of desks, tables and other worksurfaces can lead to contact stress, which can exasperate the problem. Testing showed that contract stress and fatigue were significantly lessened with the soft edge. A recent study commissioned by Steelcase and conducted by the University of Washington found that “soft edges on worksurfaces ease pressure on the forearms by disturbing the load over a larger, more compliant surface. That’s good for arteries, tendons and nerves – and can positively affect mindsets, too.”
“We have nerves, arteries and tendons near the surface of our forearms. Reducing contact stress is considered beneficial because too much contact stress can affect circulation and may ultimately affect health,” the white paper quotes Peter Johnson, an associate professor in the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences department at the University of Washington.
Steelcase is among the manufacturers responding to this need by developing low-profile, replaceable soft edges for desks and other worksurfaces. “Our goal was to create an edge that was decidedly soft in its performance, but deliberately crisp in its visuals and geometry,” said Brett Kincaid, who headed up the design team that developed Steelcase’s Soft Edge Universal Worksurface.
In addition to the ergonomic and health benefits, use of a soft edge worksurface also may result in greater productivity in the workplace – a perk for both employees and employers alike.

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