Ergonomic Risk Factors October 26 2018
Extended periods of computer work often involve constant typing or mouse clicking, hunching over a desk and straining your eyes. Some of these movements have a higher likelihood of causing injuries. Tasks that require repetitive motion, awkward posture and physical strain are categorized as ergonomic risk factors. If you’re not careful, these can lead to Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33% of all worker injuries are caused by MSD’s. Carpal tunnel, tendinitis and muscle strains are all MSD’s. Not only are these injuries painful, they can reduce productivity and keep you out of the office.
Tasks that require the same action again and again are considered repetitive. When you perform the same movement many times in a row, it can cause fatigue that wears down your muscles, ligaments or nerves. Here are a few ways to reduce your chances of getting an MSD through repetitive tasks.
1. Change the order of your repetitive task to encourage the use of different body parts.
2. After 30 minutes, switch to a new task to let your body rest. Even if you have to go back to the repetitive task later, switching up your movements every 30 minutes reduces the likelihood of muscle or ligament fatigue.
3. Take breaks to stretch or walk throughout the day. Increased blood flow can help your body recover from repetitive tasks and help your brain function.
Slouching, craning your neck or straining your body through other awkward postures increases the amount of stress on your joints and muscles. Your body can’t operate efficiently if you push its limits incorrectly on a daily basis. Correct your awkward posture using the following tips.
1. Practice correct posture when sitting or standing. Engage your core with shoulders back and your head in line with your body.
2. When picking up anything heavy, practice proper lifting techniques. Start with your feet shoulder width apart, and squat down using your legs and hips. Keep your back straight and engage your core.
3. Invest in a sit-stand station or any other tool that will help you add variety to your movements throughout the day.
Physical strain is probably not top of mind when it comes to computer work. However, eye strain, heavy keyboard strokes and spinal loading are all possible ways to strain your body while sitting at a computer. Reduce the strain on your body by considering these tips.
1. Sit further back from your computer screen and increase your monitor’s warm toned light to prevent eye strain.
2. Use your entire arm to type or use the mouse. This will prevent stress to the tendons in your forearm.
3. Plant your feet on the floor with your hips higher than your knees to maintain proper curvature of your spine. Lumbar support will also help take a load off your back while you sit.
Contact Ergo Works located in Palo Alto, CA to schedule an Ergonomic Workshop Training for your office. This is a great opportunity to increase awareness about the risk factors associated with computer usage and provide tools to counteract those risks.