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March 2022

Woman Standing At Her Desk Typing

Working In Comfort – Tips On Ergonomic Best Practices

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Learn how to treat and prevent common workplace injuries with these easy-to-follow tips. Implement them today to help your team work in comfort!

The Goal of Ergonomics

We know that sitting for hours on end at a desk can be painful. But did you know it could also lead to health issues such as back and neck pain, or carpal tunnel syndrome? So how do we avoid these problems and still work in comfort? Luckily there are some simple ways we can make our workspace more ergonomic. Whether you work in an office or on a construction site, it’s important to stay comfortable and healthy. 

Ergonomics is to make sure that the person can handle their job as well without getting hurt. It means balancing human capabilities, environmental factors and demands on an individual’s physical skills in order for them to succeed at what they do best while also being safe enough not only to perform those tasks but stay healthy over time too.

Body Knowledge

The human body has more systems than just the nervous system! The muscles, nerves and joints all work together to keep you moving through your day.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), workplace diseases/injuries or disorders of muscle tissue are commonly found in workers who perform physical labor at a job site where their hands are used frequently; They can also refer to pain felt when contracting certain types of muscles during exercises involving lifting weights overhead. 

According to the CDC, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (or WMSDs) are conditions wherein the workplace environment or work performance contribute to the condition or the condition worsens or continues longer due to the work environment.

MSDs often go unnoticed because people don’t want their job prospects diminished so they ignore any discomfort until it becomes too much to bear but luckily there are ways you might help yourself avoid this problem in the future.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s study shows that individuals who work in manufacturing jobs are at a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome over those who work clerical positions.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by the median nerve becoming compressed at the wrist leading to numbness, tingling and pain in your fingers. To help minimize these types of workplace injuries it’s important to make sure there’s proper ergonomics throughout any work area that could potentially cause CTS. This can help minimize these types of workplace injuries by following industry standards, such as using the right desk height for your arms length or having an adjustable keyboard tray so you don’t have strain on one specific angle all day long. Taking breaks throughout the day to give your wrist and fingers a rest can be beneficial and prevent further strain to the delicate joints in your hands.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Repetitive motion injuries can be one of the most common types of musculoskeletal injuries. Workplace tasks, especially in an office setting, can often lead to repetitive stress injury. According to some studies, it  is more widespread than once thought and affects not only athletes but also professionals in many different fields who perform tasks with high exposure risks. Workplace ergonomics can help minimize an individual’s chances for developing a repetitive stress injury.

Cumulative Trauma Disorders

These are painful, sometimes crippling injuries that can develop from frequent use or repetitive stress on the body’s musculoskeletal system – including nerves, tendons and sheaths muscles . They may occur because you’re sitting at your desk all day long with no breaks to stretch out those stiff joints. Cumulative trauma disorders in the workplace are often caused by ergonomic hazards such as poor job design or improperly proportioned work areas. The results can affect upper body nerves and tendons-and can even lead to muscle fatigue.

Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) occur when there has been too much stress on certain muscles due their usage over long periods of time without rest. While computer mouse use may seem like a harmless task, it can actually create problems for the body. Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are fairly common and often caused by different types of activities including: typing on a keyboard or clicking your mouse. Using an ergonomic chair that limits upper-body motion near to ground level and setting up your mouse and keyboard at an appropriate arm length can reduce strain on joints and help prevent injuries and prevent exacerbating current ones.

Take care of yourself by creating a workstation that fits you. Be attentive to daily tasks and listen closely to your body. Use good posture while seated at your desk or computer so it’s easy on both mind AND body!–And don’t forget – adjust-adjust-adjust when necessary to ensure you’re in the most comfortable and ergonomic position.

Efficient Workspace Organization

Pain in the lower back is a leading cause of disability in 160 countries which is why reorganizing your space to fit the way you work best is important when setting up your work environment. Keep commonly used items within arm’s reach to minimize twisting or stretching to reach them. Move things around as needed for various projects, and store reference books and binders on shelves if they’re not being used at present so that there is more space available in the general storage area to prevent clutter in your workspace.

Chair Sense

When sitting in your office chair, make sure to adjust it so that your knees and hips are at 90 degrees. If you like sitting higher than usual, use a footrest or other supports for extra comfortability and to prevent strain on your lower back. Once seated, position your chair as far away from your desk’s surface as possible. Adjust any lumbar support or arm rest to maintain a neutral position.

Monitor Placement

To help you stay productive and avoid eye strain, remember to keep your monitor at or slightly below eye level. The screen should also be about arms distance away from you while seated in front of the computer with adequate light coming through. Maintain a “20/20” rule for minimal blurring when looking up from working on the keyboard. Try to avoid any bright lights shining in front of the screen, as this can cause glare which will strain both yourself and those around you.

Positioning Your Keyboard and Mouse

While sitting at the keyboard, keep your forearms parallel to the floor and either keep the keyboard flat or place a slight negative tilt. Your upper arms should rest close against your torso with hands just barely grazing across its surface; don’t plant either elbow or wrist when keying in order to maintain a neutral position while typing to prevent any strain. Your hands should float across the keyboard and never lean your wrists on your keyboard. 

Move your mouse to the immediate right or left of the keyboard on an equal height so that you can easily switch hands. Hold it lightly, move by moving just one arm in whichever direction is comfortable. It is also recommended to try switching between hands and different positions to prevent wrist strain when using your mouse.

Working On Your Laptop

The key to a comfortable work session is posture. Make sure you are standing or sitting up straight and not slouching when using your laptop. If that doesn’t help enough then try connecting to a docking station whenever possible to minimize slouchy and straining while working on a small screen. Picking an ergonomic position when possible will also ensure proper form throughout any project. If possible, using blue light glasses can help prevent eye strain or injury that can occur from looking at screens for too long as well.

The Importance Of Stretching

Warming up before work is important to prevent injury. Walking can help loosen your muscles, get blood flowing and warm you up for the day ahead. Be cautious of any pain in the process and stop immediately if there are signs that something may be wrong such as severe discomfort or muscle soreness after exercising without cause. Walking and stretching as well as maintaining proper ergonomic form while on the job will help ensure that your body doesn’t become injured or over-tired, which can lead to poor performance at work. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are responsible for over 30% of nonfatal occupational injuries which is why stretching throughout your workday can help keep you injury-free. 

Putting It All Together

We all know how important it is to take breaks throughout the day, but did you also realize that taking short mini-tasks can be just as productive? Resuming your work after each break will help keep yourself engaged and energized. The key thing here is not staying at one task forever–spend enough time moving around between different positions in order for various parts of our bodies to have an opportunity to recover from weariness or muscle tension.

Maintaining good posture while sitting up straight helps prevent pain caused by improper positioning during prolonged periods without movement; think about setting aside 30–60 minutes a day for a brisk walk and incorporate stretching into your daily routine.

Injury prevention starts with using the right equipment and staying safe on your job. But it’s not just about what you do, injury can also happen because of bad habits like bad posture or incorrect equipment positioning. Be aware of your body position and make adjustments as needed throughout the day to minimize strain.

Working in comfort with practical ergonomics, neutral postures and body mechanics can help prevent injury on the job. Identifying the best way to be comfortable while maintaining proper ergonomic form will minimize injury while on the job.

Occupational Resource Network offers a variety of services that include ergonomic assessments from trained professionals who specialize in this field. If you’re not sure how your posture is affecting your health or what type of equipment may be needed for a particular task, contact our offices today. You’ll feel better knowing you have an expert looking out for your safety at work.