Employee Health and Wellness
July 5, 2023
Ergonomics can be overlooked when thinking about potential hazards that exist in the workplace. That’s because injuries caused by poor ergonomics are not as obvious as falls from heights or exposure to dangerous chemicals. However, ergonomic injuries can be just as costly to an organization.
The goal of practicing good ergonomics in the workplace is to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, strained muscles and ruptured discs, to name a few. MSDs account for 32% of all worker injuries and are the most frequent cause of lost or restricted worktime, reduced productivity, loss of income, increased insurance claims, and pain and suffering that impacts both workers and their families.
To reduce the risk of MSDs, organizations should conduct regular ergonomic assessments of worksites and make ergonomics training part of the onboarding process for new employees. Regularly communicating the importance of practice good posture at work can also be helpful.
Here are 5 ergonomic tips to communicate with employees:
- Pick a good chair: If you sit at a desk most of the day, an ergonomic chair that has adjustable height, arm rest, lumbar support and seat pan depth settings is preferable. Fit the backrest curvature of your chair to the small of the lower back to avoid lumbar discomfort. DON’T turn your couch into a workstation: As tempting as it is, the couch is not an optimal place to work at your computer for the entire day. Although it may be comfortable, having your legs or full body in a vertical position can lead to muscle numbness and discomfort.
- Make your workspace work for you: Your keyboard and mouse should be at the same level, with your arms supported by the armrests of the chair or flush with your table or desk height. Your wrists should remain straight to avoid impingement or carpal tunnel stress. If you need to look at documents as you type, ensure that you have a document holder. All other required tools, such as staplers, pens or pencils, and your phone, should be within reach. If you use the phone frequently, opt for a headset over cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder.
- Look after your eyes: Eye strain is common in workers who spend a lot of their day looking at computer monitors. Adjust your monitor so that it is at eye level when sitting straight in your chair. Ensure that you look at it directly, and that it’s not angled. If you have a window, place the monitor at a right angle to it to reduce glare.
- Take regular breaks and move around: Get in as many steps as possible during the day. Making a meal and staying hydrated gives you the opportunity to stand up, walk around and let your eyes have a rest from the computer screen. Prolonged sitting or repetitive tasks can lead to musculoskeletal issues. Practice stretching to release tension in the neck, shoulders, wrists, and back.
- Change it up: Repeating the same movement continuously through the day can cause strains. If it is possible to alternate tasks, it is advisable to do so. Take frequent breaks and do simple exercises to keep your muscles and tendons from becoming tense or strained.
Remember, improving workplace ergonomics is an ongoing process. Regular evaluations and adjustments should be made to ensure that an onsite or remote workspace remains comfortable, safe, and supportive of employees’ health.
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