Within the United States, the National Safety Council (NSC) routinely checks the ergonomics of a workplace, even for employees who conduct their work remotely. If you haven't heard of ergonomics, it's the applied science behind arranging and creating a space that is safe and efficient for our bodies. Having an ergonomic office is essential to the continued physical well-being and comfort of a company's workers.
In fact, without an ergonomic office, Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are known to occur. They're actually the country's third most common illness or injury claim. So, what is a Musculoskeletal Disorder? It's a medical condition that can harm a person's muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and even their blood vessels. These disorders are frequently triggered by repetitive motions, hazardous workplace arrangements, and incorrect sitting postures.
Some of the most well-known MSDs include: Back Pain, Tendinitis, Carpal Tunnel, Epicondylitis, as well as muscle strains and general injuries (i.e. rotator cuff injury). These issues are so predominant that we’re focusing all about ergonomics during the last week of National Safety Month.
5 Steps You Need to Take to Avoid Injury:
- Adjust your desk chair so it doesn't cause discomfort to your body. Make sure that your lower back is supported. Bring the armrests towards your elbows, so they are supported, flat, and in-line with your shoulder span. Finally, raise or lower your chair to ensure that your feet are fully grounded.
- Move your computer monitor into a comfortable position for your neck. Ideally, your monitor should be 18 inches away from your eyes at least. Your neck should be straight and not straining up or down.
- Position your keyboard and mouse correctly. These items should be within a comfortable reach. Wrists need to be supported and in a neutral position. If your wrists aren't parallel to the floor, padded keyboards and alternately designed mouses may be required.
- Sit up straight and take breaks from your desk. Some people don't realize this, but "slumping" is very hard on your neck, back, and spine. So, while you're seated, exercise correct posture with both feet planted firmly on the ground.
Also, don't stay at your desk all day. Every 30 to 60 minutes, get up, walk around, and even stretch a little. Don't look at your screen for longer than 15 minutes and take pauses after intense typing sessions.
- Have a full ergonomic office assessment conducted by a professional. If an employee is experiencing ongoing pain, discomfort, or migraines that are related to their workstation, then they should notify their employer. A trained ergonomics expert can work with the employee to improve their office space. Through proper guidance, present issues are often remedied, and future problems are prevented!
Often, ensuring that an office space is ergonomically arranged only takes a few simple adjustments. Employees and employers don't always realize how important it is to make these changes now, as opposed to further down the road. But let's do the math for a minute. If every full-time employee spends a minimum of 40 hours at work, those hours spent sitting in a hazardous, uncomfortable environment can quickly add up, resulting in a myriad of health consequences.