Ergonomics in the Office and its Role in Corporate Wellness
Ergonomics in the office doesn’t have to look like a workplace full of space-age furniture and strenuous stretching routines. It can be as simple as adjustable chairs and microbreaks.
Back and neck pain are commonly reported workplace injuries, and not just from bad lifting. Seemingly benign activities such as sitting in an office chair for too long can cause problems. Workers who spend large amounts of time sitting at desks benefit from applying simple ergonomic principles in their work environment. Doing so can help avoid work-related injury and pain. Corporate wellness programs like the ones offered through Synergy Wellness have been shown to reduce lost work time due to illness and injury.
What is ergonomics?
Merriam-Webster defines ergonomics as “An applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” In a typical office environment, this simply means the workspace and tools are designed or laid out to reduce stresses on the body. Facilitating a healthy work environment and habits reduces health-related productivity loss. The proper chair can help maintain a healthy posture. An ergonomic keyboard can reduce the risk of carpal tunnel. In essence, the tools conform to the needs of the worker instead of the worker conforming to fit the tools. With that in mind, let’s discuss how a focus on proper ergonomics in the workplace can reduce common health complaints of office workers and increase their overall health, well-being, and productivity.
Poor Ergonomics in the Workplace and Injury
Knowing how and when injuries in the workplace occur is the first step to accessing the work environment for risk factors.
Once these factors are identified, they can be systematically addressed. A corporate wellness plan with Dr. Dave through Synergy Wellness can help you with a customized risk assessment for your workplace.
Desk workers and anyone else who spends most of their day sitting are at risk for back injuries. Introducing good ergonomics can minimize this risk.
Here are some of the most common problems associated with poor office ergonomics:
- Upper and lower back pain
- Neck strain
- Leg pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Workplace injuries can happen as a part of normal, required activities due to:
- Poor posture or positioning (slouching, bad keyboard position)
- Repetitive motions
- Maintaining one position for too long (standing or sitting)
- Fatigue (lack of sleep, inactivity, etc.)
Or it can be caused by sudden or unexpected events:
- A shifting load
- Slip and fall
- Bad lifting technique
- Muscle strain
The human body isn’t made to stay in one position for too long. Maintaining one position for prolonged periods of time reduces tissue elasticity in tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Overreaching, twisting, and repetitive motions put strain on a limited area. This causes physical stress that leads to discomfort and pain. There are a number of things you can do to correct possible problem areas.
Maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle is always a good place to start no matter what. It’s not enough, however, to combat all the stress put on a body during the course of a typical office workday.
Get up and move. Take regular microbreaks throughout the day to break up the monotony. Alternate standing and sitting activities. Implement a variety of stretching techniques to use throughout your day.
Evaluate your workstation setup. Slouching and poor posture are the bane of the office worker’s back. Choose a chair that properly supports the lumbar region, and set the height to keep your feet flat on the floor and your legs parallel. Make sure your arms hang comfortably and your elbows rest at about a 90-degree angle. You will also want to adjust your keyboard and monitor to fit with the chair height or use an elevated footrest. Keeping your arms and wrists in a comfortable and aligned position will reduce strain in this area. The Mouse Trap is a good exercise to help alleviate the stress put on the right shoulder from the use of a computer mouse. This video can be found in the corporate wellness portal on my site.
Chiropractic care involves more than just spinal adjustments. Incorporating regular chiropractic checkups can catch current work-related problems before they get worse and avoid future issues. Our highly skilled and experienced massage therapists provide massage therapy to reduce stress, tension, and fatigue right in our office.
Corporate Wellness Program
Start a Corporate Wellness Program. If your company does not offer a corporate wellness program, I highly suggest you request or start one. While many times seen as just an extra add on, these programs actually offer extensive benefits to both the employees and the company. A well implemented wellness program not only addresses injury and sickness prevention but also includes management of current health issues. Some of the more prominent benefits of these programs include but are not limited to the following:
- Increased employee satisfaction
- Increased employee health
- Improved productivity
- Significantly reduced healthcare costs
- Fewer sick days
Visit our website for information on the benefits of a wellness program through Synergy Wellness.
One of the advantages of a wellness program through Synergy Wellness is access to our Corporate Wellness portal. Register here for a free 10-day access code to our Ergonomics Learning Center where you will find videos, articles, and free downloads on numerous topics like:
- When Is Standing Too Much?
- Healthy Habits You Must Implement into Your Workday
- 6-Part Corrective Strategy To Avoid Desk Sitting Pain
- Home Office Ergonomics You Must Know
- What Sitting On Your Wallet Does To Your Back
- The Desk Worker Self-Assessments
- Microbreak reference cards
- The Desk Jockey’s Manifesto
- The Mouse Trap (video)
If you are suffering from problems due to poor ergonomics in your workspace or want to start a wellness program for your company, don’t wait. Contact Dr. Dave today!