Is Your Office Ergonomic?
Do you work in an office and suffer from lower back pain, arthritis, neck strains, leg pain, or carpal tunnel syndrome? Unfortunately, sitting for much of the day puts you at high risk for these sorts of non-accidental injuries, but luckily, staying physically fit and practising good ergonomics can immensely reduce the risk of these common office injuries.
In this article, we will discuss the practice of using correct ergonomics in the workplace and how this can benefit you physically and emotionally while improving workplace productivity and safety.
What Is Ergonomic?
Ergonomic is also sometimes referred to as comfort design and pertains to the practice of office product design to specifically take into account how people interact with those products. Properly ergonomically designed systems and office furniture optimise productivity and safety in the workplace by cutting down on injuries and increasing comfort.
An ergonomist, or a human factors specialist, analyses and assesses the fit between a person and the activities being done in the office and the technology and equipment being used to perform those activities.
One of the most common injuries in the workplace is back injuries. Back pain is often caused by common activities such as prolonged sitting or lifting, and a lot of back pain can be prevented by employing an ergonomically correct work environment. Slouching, repetitive motions (such as typing or assembly-line work), fatigue, and sustained activity are also common causes of work-related injuries. Back injuries can be limited by avoiding extended static posture (not moving for long periods of time), avoiding repetitive movements, avoiding heavy lifting, and avoiding fatigue.
Office chair back injuries are also very common when a person sits for most of the day, such as those working with computers often do. Other office chair injuries can be neck and leg strain and pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. One of the most common kinds of work-related injuries is work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WRMDs). On a yearly basis, 1.8 million workers in the United States experience WRMDs and almost 600,000 of these injuries are severe enough to cause workers to miss work, so practising good ergonomics and using ergonomic products in the workplace is important.
Good And Bad Ergonomics
Employ the following good ergonomics when standing to prevent back injuries: your head should be directly over your shoulders with your chest out, your shoulders should be in line with your hips, the abdominal muscles should be kept tight, the buttocks should be kept tucked, and the feet should be apart with one slightly in front of the other with the knees minimally bent and not locked straight.
Wearing shoes that are well cushioned and supportive can help prevent back injuries also, as well as changing positions every twenty minutes. Posture is also important while sitting, and so you should avoid slouching at all costs, and make full use of your chair’s lumbar support cushion.
First, you should adjust the height of your desk, or simply use a sit stand desk converter, and then adjust the height of your chair so that your desk is at the height of your elbows. In order to keep your feet from swelling, you should be able to put your fist behind your calf and also in front of the seat. You’ll want to avoid pushing too hard on the backs of your legs. You can use the ergonomic footrest too in this instance.
Next, you should adjust your computer screen’s height. To do this, sit in your newly adjusted ergonomic office chair, and close your eyes. You should be relaxed when you do this. When you first open your eyes, where you look first should be where the computer screen rests. You may also use an adjustable monitor arm if your computer screen’s height is fixed.
Many people have a long commute to work, and this can contribute to back problems. When you are driving, in order to minimise adverse effects on your back, you should sit with your knees at hip level, and sit at an appropriate distance from your steering wheel. Sitting too close to the steering wheel puts you at risk of injury from the airbag, and sitting too far away causes you to reach, which can put the strain on the neck, shoulder, wrist, and lumbar spine. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you should sit about 10 inches from the airbag to take advantage of its protection in the event of a crash, but still be far enough away to prevent injury. A car neck and back cushion will also improve your overall driving experience.
How To Lift Without Injuring Your Back
You may be in a job that requires you to lift or move heavy materials, which puts you at high risk for a back injury, especially lifting from the floor. In order to prevent back injury while lifting ergonomically, get as close to the material as possible, and place your feet diagonally. You may also want to raise the materials that you are lifting to waist-height in order to lift ergonomically and prevent lifting from the floor.
All of the materials that you are lifting should be kept as close to your centre of gravity as possible in order to prevent injury, and if you have the choice between pushing or pulling, choose pushing, which is more back-friendly. Also, avoid twisting, such as when you are using a shovel. Pivot instead, which means keeping the load in front of you, and moving the feet, shoulders, and hips at the same time.
Employing the practice of using good ergonomics in your life and in the workplace can significantly reduce your risk of many injuries, especially back injuries. It is very important that you use good ergonomics at work, especially if you sit for much of the day or lift things constantly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found a great deal of evidence that using good ergonomics in the workplace can cut worker’s compensation claims, increase productivity, and decrease turnover with employees. We hope that this article has helped you learn about good ergonomics and that you will utilise what you’ve learned here in order to improve your quality of life! Find out more about office ergonomics in our other post.