Let’s face it: a dominating percentage of modern day jobs require workers to sit for the majority of the day. If you think about it, that’s at least 6-7 hours per day of time spent in your chair and all of that sitting will take a toll on your body. According to Hughesoccupational.com, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified that Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) are the single largest job-related injury and illness problem in the USA. And with businesses spending over $170 billion annually on all work-related injuries and illnesses combined it would be a good idea to take some preventative measures against them. Now, what is likely to be the best proactive solution? You guessed it. Workplace ergonomics.
Ergonomics, also known as comfort design or functional design, is defined as the practice of designing products or systems to take proper account of the people who use them. Workplace ergonomics is the science of designing the workstation to allow for a comfortable working environment for maximum productivity and efficiency all while preventing fatigue and discomfort. Now, we may not all be so lucky as to have a fancy hydraulic desk that provides the option to sit or stand as desired or an ergonomics expert who will take your measurements and work with you to select and configure your own personalized workspace, but there are smaller and very efficient changes you can make to both you and your workstation to make significant improvements. Nowadays nearly all office equipment, such as keyboards, mice, phones and (most importantly) chairs all have ergonomic options. According to Ergonomics Plus, there are 10 simple and very helpful tips to get you through the day on a better note without having to replace any equipment:
1) Make sure that the weight of your arms is supported at all times. If your arms are not supported, the muscles of your neck and shoulders will be crying by the end of the day.
2) Watch your head position, and try to keep the weight of your head directly above its base of support (neck). Don’t “crane” your head and neck forward.
3) Don’t be a slouch! Slouching puts more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your back. Use the lumbar support of your chair and avoid sitting in a way that places body weight more on one than on the other. Move your chair as close to your work as possible to avoid leaning and reaching. Make sure to “scoot” your chair in every time you sit down.
4) The monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top no higher than eye level. The keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor so you don’t have to frequently turn your head and neck.
5) Talking on the phone with the phone receiver jammed between the neck and ear is really bad practice. You know that’s true, so don’t do it!
6) The keyboard and the mouse should close enough to prevent excessive reaching which strains the shoulders and arms.
7) Avoid eye strain by making sure that your monitor is not too close, it should be at least an arm’s length away.
8) Take steps to control screen glare, and make sure that the monitor is not placed in front of a window or a bright background.
9) You can rest your eyes periodically for several seconds by looking at objects at a distance to give your eyes a break.
10) The feet should not be dangling when you are seated. If your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor or there is pressure on the backs of your legs, use a footrest or lower the keyboard and chair.
Implementing some (or even all) of these small changes could have a significant impact on your long term health. After all, it is far easier to prevent an illness or injury than it is to cure it.