We often hear about how important ergonomically designed spaces are when it comes to our offices or other workspaces, but it’s less frequent that we hear about the importance of ergonomically designed spaces in our homes – our kitchens for example. And when you think about it, that’s kind of strange because the kitchen is also a workspace and therefore it should be ergonomically efficient.
So if you want to improve your productivity in the kitchen while also lowering your risk of injury, here are a few tips and ideas:
Create Flexible Workspaces
Working in the kitchen usually involves a number of tasks ranging from chopping and peeling vegetables, mixing and blending, washing dishes and so on. The less that you have to move around in between these tasks; the more efficient you are going to be.
Whenever possible, therefore, try to have spaces that are flexible and that can be adapted for different jobs in the kitchen.
Most new homes today are built with standard sizes in their kitchen components. Upper cabinets, for example, tend to be installed 18″ above the countertops. The countertops are 36” from the floor. But just because these measurements are standard, doesn’t mean that they are right for you or your family.
Workspaces in the kitchen – just like workspaces in the office – should be adaptable to the person who is using them. A person who is in a wheelchair, for example, will require knee space underneath their work surface in order to work in an ergonomically efficient manner. But able-bodied people can also benefit from knee space as it allows them to sit down while working. Although most of us might think of the kitchen as a place where we stand up to work, sitting while working can help to prevent fatigue.
As mentioned, the standard countertop height is 36” but this height was set in the 1930s when people were shorter on average than they are today. For most of us today, the ideal countertop height should be between 37 and 39 inches.
Does your back hurt after you’ve spent the day in the kitchen preparing food for your family? If the pain is in your lower back, it could be a sign that your countertops are too low. If you find that the pain is more in your upper back and shoulders, it’s an indication that your countertops are too low.
To determine whether your countertops are ergonomically efficient stand with both palms on the counter. Ideally, your arms should be resting at a 45-degree angle.
Another way that you can make your kitchen more ergonomically efficient is to use storage zones. Store items where they are most likely to be used. For example, if you like to bake you should store your mixing bowls where you would typically use them – not on the other side of the room.
Appliances are often some of the least ergonomically friendly features in the kitchen. Dishwashers require constant bending, top freezer refrigerators lack efficiency for most people and bending over to lift a heavy turkey out of a hot oven is definitely not the brightest idea anyone ever had!
Fortunately, more manufacturers are starting to design more ergonomically friendly appliances such as bottom freezer refrigerators, wall ovens and drawer dishwasher. Unfortunately, these types of appliances tend to be on the pricier side but they might be worth it to you if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
If you are interested in making your kitchen more ergonomically friendly, we can help. Contact us today for a consultation.