Ergonomics. It’s likely a word that you’ve heard occasionally, but do you know how it applies to your daily life? The United States Department of Health and Human Services states that “ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to employee capabilities.” Tailoring workplace ergonomics to each individual can thus increase an employee’s productivity and ensure that they are working in a way that is safe for their body.
The American Chiropractic Association advises that there are three basic principles to keep in mind when working towards optimum workplace safety:
1) Lifting should be performed with the larger muscles, avoiding undue stress on smaller, vulnerable muscles.
2) Work activities should promote different postures and discourage employees from remaining sedentary. Otherwise, muscles will get tired and become more predisposed to injury, especially if the posture being maintained is a bad one.
3) When working around the office, keep the joints in a neutral position “or approximately halfway into the range of motion.” Abnormal stress is caused if you put your joints at the end of their ranges of motion for long periods. This can cause reoccurring stress injuries.
TIPS FOR WORKERS WHO SIT AT A DESK
-Make sure your desk is the right height and that you can easily reach anything on top of it.
-Sit with your feet on the floor, and position your legs and body so that they from a 90-100 degree angle.
-Keep yourself straight and remember to keep your “head and neck upright and looking forward, not to the side.”
-Position the computer monitor so that your eyes look at the top of it when you are facing forward and sitting up straight.
-Maintain proper typing form. Wrists should be straight, shoulders perpendicular to floor, and forearms parallel to floor.
-If you need to read something at your desk, use a book stand or something that puts the material at the same height as your computer monitor.
-Use a headset to talk on the phone, as crooking your neck to hold the phone between shoulder and cheek can increase the likelihood of neck pain and headaches.
-Stand up and stretch by briefly walking around the office every 20-30 minutes.
-Make sure to take mini-breaks throughout the day and stretch various joints and muscles (wrists, arms, neck, etc.).
-Use proper form when moving a computer mouse. Don’t let your wrist do all of the work, but instead, “use your entire arm and shoulder [to] hold the mouse loosely.”
Source: American Chiropractic Association website (http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3130)