Acute and chronic musculoskeletal complaints and work-related injuries are on the rise. You may ask why? Most of our work is very repetitive, whether you sit all day at a computer work station or in a factory on the line. This exposes workers to awkward postures, repetitive motions of the upper extremities as well as sustained postures that can create a multitude of spinal and muscular complaints. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, trigger finger, golfer’s or tennis elbow, along with cervical and lumbar disorders are examples of a few conditions that can be alleviated through appropriate ergonomics.
A thorough evaluation will consist of an initial assessment, which includes looking at the overall posture of your head, neck, back, upper body, forearms, wrists, hands, legs and feet. The professional will then determine your risk factors, which includes things like repetitious movement, forces, contact stress, static loading and environmental factors. Did you know poor lighting (an environmental factor) in your office may lead to eye strain and/or headaches? This is a simple fix, but often time goes unchecked. The next step in an ergonomic assessment will be to implement controls, which means slightly re-designing the work space, providing tools, equipment, workstations and products that fit you specifically. Lastly, a good ergonomist will recommend job modifications. This is done through assessing work space (things you use 75% of the time should be within forearms reach), modifying your seat, looking at your monitors, keyboards, mouse, etc. The number one goal should be to improve productivity while decreasing risk for injury. Yes, you can have both. Job modification can also include setting you up with a consistent break schedule and a stretching routine.
It’s your health and wellness at stake and an hour of time invested will save you aches, pains and potentially dollars for you and your employer.