Workplace Ergonomics describes the process of fitting job demands and proper body mechanics together to prevent injuries. According to OSHA, 33% of job related injuries occurred from improper ergonomics. Issues can occur in people that have jobs demanding sitting for long periods, repetitive heavy lifting, or standing for more than a few hours nonstop.
Heavy lifting tasks pose a great deal of stress to your body and if performed incorrectly can cause permanent damage to the spine. Simple things to avoid injury include:
- Keep back straight
- Squat and use as many muscles from your legs as possible.
- Keep object close to your body
- Flex elbows and keep head and neck up
- Avoid twisting motions and instead turn your entire body
- Avoid lifting above shoulder level by using a stool or ladder if needed
- Avoid carrying items in one hand
- Use devices and tools if necessary
Sitting in front of a computer for more than 25 minutes at a time, although not overtly strenuous, can cause headaches, muscle strains, and spinal deformities over time. Proper sitting at a desk includes:
- Top of the monitor slightly below eye level
- Centered directly in front of computer
- Forearms level with keyboard or tilted slightly up
- Wrists should not rest on keyboard
- Feet flat on the floor or a stepstool
- Chair that supports lower back
- Adjustable arm rests
- 360 degree swivel
- Adjustable height and tilt
- Most used items closer to you
- Position desk perpendicular to window to reduce glare and possibility of headaches
Many people who have jobs that require standing for long periods complain of leg and back pain that could be avoided. While standing for long periods it is important to remember:
- Keep table 4 inches above elbow height for delicate tasks, at elbow level for light work, and 4-6 inches below elbow level for heavy work
- Prop foot up on 4-6 inch foot rest or rail
- Proper foot wear use
Overall, the goal is to reduce the possibility of injury from any job related tasks. Every 30 minutes or so take a break to re-energize your muscles with some light stretching and activity including: ankle circles, calf stretch, standing, kicking, arm swings, arm stretches, etc.
Physical therapy can help you resolve current pain or other issues, figure out correct adjustments for your workspace, improve body mechanics, teach stretches, and guide you on proper footwear use if necessary.
We treat patients with work injuries in the 34711 area!