5 ways to improve your ergonomic health

When people hear the words "safety training," hard hats and yellow tape spring to mind. But did you know that the most common workplace injuries are related to everyday strains and repetitive tasks? In fact, ergonomic injuries are the most frequently reported workplace injury.

Although the term sounds complex and foreign, ergonomic injuries are commonplace and make up the majority of office injuries. They can include joint deterioration, tendon inflammation, and muscle problems. Because these injuries develop in joints and muscles and don’t often involve breaks or serious illness, they can form over time or happen all at once.

Most ergonomic injuries arise from repetitive movements, awkward posture, and overextension during moments of everyday exertion. They can also arise from repetitive pressure, exposure to vibrations, and exposure to fluctuations in temperature.

With increasing digitization of work resources and programs, employees spend more and more time each day at their desks, staring at computer screen. In fact, many chronic issues related to ergonomics—such as back problems and hypertension—have seen dramatic increases (as much as double) with the use of computers in the workplace. Anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of office workers annually report being affected. Additionally, ergonomic problems disproportionately affect older workers and those already affected by chronic health issues.

Ergonomic injuries can mean big expenditures for a business. They cause serious pain and debilitation, are difficult to properly diagnose, and can easily put an end someone’s career on the job site or at the office. There are often no cures for ergonomic injuries because repetitive movement and time usually play such a large role in how they develop. However, there are important things you can do to prevent these types of injuries from gaining traction.

Here are 5 ways you can prevent ergonomic injury:

1. Watch your posture
Whether an ergonomic injury happens all at once or gradually, posture helps build the muscles that prevent strains and helps slow deterioration by supporting joints. Keep the weight of your arms supported at all times, and square your body to your computer monitor. Avoid eyestrain by keeping your screen at arm’s length. If you’re on the phone frequently, use a headset to avoid neck problems.

2. Stay mobile and supported
Many diseases and clotting conditions can affect the leg’s blood vessels. Many can also be prevented by regular movement and stretching. Be sure to get up from your work station at frequent intervals throughout the day to stretch and walk around. Many exercises that improve circulation can be done within the confines of an office. Taking a break from your computer will also relieve eye strain and promote the natural movement of your ocular muscles.

If you work on your feet, it’s important to support your body with proper footwear. In some cases, back support can also be used to prevent similar injuries and strains.

3. Use the tools at your disposal
Many back injuries happen because employees were lifting improperly, either without appropriate help or with improper or no tools. Remember to lift from the legs without bending your back and ask for a hand if objects are awkwardly sized or weigh too much to lift. There is no universal standard for how heavy an object can be before you must use a lift or ask for help, so use your own judgment and listen to your body. Additionally, use power tools whenever possible to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.

4. Keep healthy
Health is a major contributing factor to ergonomic injuries. Getting regular exercise outside the office can go a long way to preventing injury and has the added bonus of extending your life. Stay hydrated and maintain proper nutrition to avoid muscle cramps and problems. Fatigue can also play a role in many forms of stress, so be sure to get a good night’s rest.

5. Avoid risky behaviour
Many ergonomic injuries happen from overextension. You can prevent them by avoiding activities that you know may put you at risk. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to let your boss know that you think something is outside of your physical capabilities. If an activity or working condition seems unsafe, report it and defuse the situation before it turns into a workplace injury.
Every job makes a different set of demands on the body. Today the issue of how this impacts employees, and what can be done to reduce or eliminate adverse effects is receiving a lot of attention. While there is much debate about many aspects of ergonomics, everyone agrees on one thing... that is by using proper ergonomic techniques, employees can be safer and more productive as well as feel better at the end of the day.

Our training products on "Office Ergonomics" address how to recognize ergonomic problems, the potential of adverse effects and practical solutions employees themselves can use to help deal with ergonomic problems in the office. Topics covered in the products include:

  • Physiology of the body.
  • Parts of the body most affected.
  • Eye strain.
  • Pragmatic preventative measures.
  • Correct use of office equipment.
  • Exercises and stress release.
  • and more.

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Ashok Sharma has over 8 years of digital marketing experience and has helped clients to increase web traffic and grow their businesses. He leads the Digital Marketing Technical Team and currently marketing consultant of BIS Training Solutions Canada, the top rated LMS software provider.

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