One of the best ways to improve employee productivity and decrease workplace injury is to emphasize ergonomics. Optimized posture and proper lifting, behavior and workstation setup will help employees feel better throughout the day and give companies the opportunity to avoid workers compensation or health costs that stem from poor injury prevention practices.
However, it’s important for organizations to realize that ergonomics have to do with more than how a person sits. The entire study of positioning the human body for different tasks also deals with the way that people talk on the phone, how they use a computer mouse and even the angle from which they view their monitors while they type.
What is proper workplace ergonomics?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to employee capabilities. An ergonomic assessment of the workplace critically appraises the physical work environment—followed by changes based on the assessment. Ergonomic principles are then used to make the workplace compatible with the employee, improving the employee’s safety and productivity. In other words, the easier it is to do a job, the more productive and happy the worker will be.
“Workplace ergonomics are vital to office productivity,” says Dr. Jim Erickson, D.C., Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Center of South Barrington. “When considering the impact of proper ergonomics on workplace safety and productivity, good posture, proper lifting and proper positioning of desk and computer monitors is key.” The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends the following:
1- When lifting, the largest muscles in the area should perform the task. The larger the muscle or muscle group used for lifting, the lower the stress placed on smaller, more vulnerable muscles.
2- During any work activities, people should be able to comfortably assume a number of different postures and not remain in one position for an extended time. Muscles will fatigue and be more prone to injury when assuming a particular posture, especially a poor one (e.g., partially bent forward at the waist).
3- When performing tasks, it is important to keep the joints either in their neutral posture or approximately halfway into the range of motion. Working with your joints at the extremes of their ranges of motion for prolonged periods places abnormal stresses on them and can cause repetitive stress injuries.
When working at a desk, try these suggestions for greater comfort:
1- Choose a desk that is the proper height. All things on your desk should be within easy reach.
2- Your feet should be touching the floor, with the legs and body forming an angle of 90 to 110 degrees.
3- Keep your body straight with the head and neck upright and looking forward, not to the side. Do not hunch over or slouch.
4- Adjust the height of your monitor. Look forward with your head in a neutral position. Your eyes should be at the same height as the top of the monitor. Leaning your head forward can lead to headaches and neck pain.
5- When typing, keep your wrists straight, your shoulders perpendicular to the floor, and your forearms parallel to the floor.
6- When reading at your desk, use a bookstand or a paper holder to keep your eyes in the same neutral position you use to read documents on your computer monitor.
7- When talking on the phone, use a headset, when possible, especially if you talk on the phone for prolonged periods. Holding the phone between your shoulder and cheek will only lead to neck pain and headaches.
8- Stand up and stretch your legs with a short walk about every 20 to 30 minutes.
9- Take micro-breaks often, stretching your neck, arms and wrists, back, and legs. Simple stretches include neck rotations, fist clenches, arm dangles, and shoulder shrugs.
10- If your eyes concentrate on a particular object for long periods, relax your eye muscles by shifting your focus from objects that are close to you to objects that are farther away. This helps reduce eye strain.
When lifting, follow these simple suggestions:
When lifting from the floor, keep your back straight and lift with the legs. Do not bend over at the waist and lift with the muscles of the low back. Your body is more easily injured in this position. Keep the object being lifted close to your body. Keep your elbows flexed. Keep your head up and your neck straight as you lift.
When working with a computer mouse, try the following:
Don’t move the mouse with just your wrist. Use your entire arm and shoulder. Don’t rest your arm on the edge of the desk while manipulating the mouse. Hold the mouse loosely. Keep your wrist relaxed. Don’t hold it up or down; instead, hold it in a neutral (straight) position Move away from the mouse several times per hour and move your wrists, arms, and shoulders around.
“Proper lifting and positioning will go a long way to keeping employees healthy and well and will also reduce workplace injuries,” says Erickson.
Dr. Jim Erickson, D.C. serves as Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Center of South Barrington located at 4601 W. Higgins Rd. Hoffman Estates, IL 60192. Erickson is accepting new patients and can be reached at (224) 293-6850.
About Chiro one Wellness Centers
Chiro One Wellness Centers serves Chicagoland, Kentucky and Texas with 74 convenient locations and provides a variety of services including corrective Chiropractic care, core stabilization and seminars and lectures on health topics including stress management, nutrition, workplace ergonomics and more.
Chiro One Wellness Centers' Vision is, “that every human being discovers their full potential.” Their Mission: Being leaders in developing extraordinary wellness for families and individuals by taking a stand for the well being of their communities through education and service. For more information, visit http://www.Chiroone.net. Follow Chiro One on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/ChiroOne.
April Neill, Director of Public Relations
Chiro One Wellness Centers
Cell: (815) 651-0656