Ergonomics: A Ground-Up Approach

By Dr. Kevan Orvitz, Founder and President - MEGAComfort International Inc.

Ergonomics can elevate a workplace from an uncomfortable gloomy environment to one that’s comfortable, safe, and efficient. The study and practice of ergonomics is weaved into our daily lives, often without us even realizing it. Our office chair, car controls, or desktop instruments are frequently designed with ergonomic functionality and goals. Ergonomic concepts can be used in almost everything within health and safety, including items at your workplace and around your home.

The field of ergonomics strives to improve the workplace environment in the hopes of preventing injuries. Recently, the Ergonomics International Journal published a study ”Effects of an Insole Program in a Manufacturing Setting: Impact on Lower Extremity Muscle Activity”. This study focused on workers who spent a great deal of time during their workday standing or walking on concrete hard floors. In the past, these employees utilized anti-fatigue matting and were later switched to anti-fatigue insoles. MEGAComfort was honored to provide the insoles for this study.

The results of the study showed that 98 percent of the workers surveyed who used these ergonomic insoles, reported a reduction in aches and pains in their feet, lower legs, hips and lower back. These findings were supported objectively using electromyography (EMG) – the recording of electrical activity of muscles. The EMG results indicated a statistically significant reduction in lower leg muscle activity by 9.6 percent in workers while they were wearing the insoles compared to not wearing the insoles.

The study revealed that wearing ergonomically designed insoles, that limit muscle activity during each work shift can have a positive cumulative effect over the course of a worker’s career. As well it confirmed that insoles could be considered a cost-effective alternative to anti-fatigue floor matting.

Prior to founding MEGAComfort, I spent time working in an automobile factory. Each day I watched as workers suffered through their day with aches and pains. As a podiatrist I immediately knew the solution started on the ground. Employers were spending a fortune on anti-fatigue matting which is limited in it’s ability to cover a work area, especially for mobile employees. Not only does it leave most of a workplace void of any anti-fatigue protection but I saw it peel and chip away, causing more slips, trips, and falls.

Employees required more care and comfort. Studying the employee’s ailments and employers needs, I created a personalized comfort zone for all workers and developed the ergonomically designed MEGAComfort Personal Anti-Fatigue Mat (PAM) insole. The PAM insole features a deep heel cup and arch cushioning and is available in multiple sizes to properly fit each worker.

Creating a more ergonomic workplace can seem overwhelming. However, all it takes is one step in the right direction. Aligning your company with other companies and products focused on improving workplace safety, employee engagement and comfort can dramatically increase the success of your wellness and safety programs. Incorporating ergonomic products into your employee’s PPE or safety program is a great way to engage workers in their wellness and personal safety. Safety starts from the ground up. You can reduce slips, trips, and falls, lower healthcare costs and increase productivity and engagement just by taking the right (ergonomic and comfortable) steps.

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How do I make sure to get the right size?

To measure your feet:

  1. Get a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a tape measure.
  2. Stand with one foot on the piece of paper, and have most of your weight on your foot to simulate walking.
  3. Holding the pencil perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the paper, mark a line at the back of your heel and at the tip of your longest toe. Also mark a line along each side of the widest part of your foot.
  4. Measure length and width to the nearest 16th inch and subtract .20 to .25 inches, or .50 centimetres, to account for the width of the pencil.
  5. Find your corresponding size in the charts below.

A couple of tips to get the perfect fit:

  • Measure your feet later in the day as feet normally swell and can become up to half a size bigger in the evening.
  • Measure both feet and use the measurements of the biggest foot. Many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Wear the same type of socks you will generally be wearing on the job when you measure your feet.

Here are some general guidelines to assess fit once you’ve received your new boots:

  • Try on new boots towards the end of the day.
  • Walk around in a clean environment for a couple of hours to make sure the boots are comfortable.
  • Try boots on both feet, as many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Boots should fit snugly around the heel and ankle when laced.
  • The inner side of the boot should be straight from the heel to the end of the big toe.
  • The boot should grip the heel firmly.

Measuring apparel for proper fit

Size X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large 2X-Large 3X-Large
Neck - Inches 13-13.5 14-14.5 15-15.5 16-16.5 17-17.5 18-18.5 19-19.5
Neck - Centimetres 33-35 36-37 38-39 41-42 43-44 45-47 48-50
Chest - Inches 30-32 34-36 38-40 42-44 46-48 50-52 54-56
Chest - Centimetres 76-81 86-91 97-102 107-112 117-122 127-132 137-147
Waist - Inches 27-28 29-31 32-34 36-38 40-42 44-46 48-50
Waist - Centimetres 68-71 73-78 81-83 91-96 101-106 111-116 121-127

Hint: For the most accurate results, measure yourself in your undergarments.

  • Neck: Measure around the base of your neck, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your neck to allow ease in fit.
  • Chest: Measure around the fullest part of your chest, keeping tape firmly under your armpits and around your shoulder blades.
  • Waist: Measure around your waist, slightly below your natural waist, where you normally wear your pants. Insert your forefinger between the tape and your body to allow ease in fit.
  • Sleeve length: Bend your arm slightly. Measure from centre back neck, across your shoulder, down to your elbow, down to your wrist.
  • Hip: Measure around the fullest part of your hips, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your hip to allow ease in fit.
  • Inseam: Measure a similar pant that fits you well. Measure along the inseam, from the crotch seam to the bottom of the hem.

Between sizes?

If your measurements are in between those listed in the size chart, pick the next larger size.