HEALTHY AT WORK: THE IMPORTANCE OF ERGONOMICS
No matter what you do for work, HOW you do it — the physical movements you make each day, all day long — has an effect on your body. Straining, reaching, turning or twisting and not moving efficiently are causes of repetitive stress. This stress can lead to injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, back pain, etc. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 33 percent of all worker injury and illness cases in 2013.
To keep you healthy, your work area should accommodate you and your needs as much as possible. This is the idea behind ergonomics: designing a space to fit each worker to help each of us avoid injury. While sometimes the conditions of a workspace may be beyond our control, there are still small things we can do to improve our ergonomics.
- Reducing the risk of injury
Maintaining good posture and making fewer motions allows for less exertion and makes your workspace more efficient. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has guidelines for workplaces that give more specifics, but these simple ergonomics concepts can help everyone reduce the risk of injury.
- Work in neutral postures
Keep your spine, neck, hands and wrists all in alignment during repetitive tasks.
- Keep everything in reach
Avoid unneeded stretching and strain. When possible, position frequently used items close to you during each specific task.
- Work at proper height
Make sure you are comfortable and adjust as needed.
- Reduce excessive motions
Use tools and equipment, such as step stools, carts, lifts, etc. when possible.
- Minimize fatigue and static load
Avoid holding heavy items for longer than necessary.
- Minimize pressure points
Use anti-fatigue mats or wear insoles, back brace, and other aids as needed.
- Move, exercise and stretch
Use your breaks as a time to stretch, shake out tight muscles and move in a different way.
- Maintain a comfortable environment
When possible, be sure you have good lighting, a comfortable temperature, etc.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor