Workplace ergonomics

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Workplace injuries, a common cause of time off, cost employers and employees billions of dollars every year. Some of the more common workplace injuries are carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, tendonitis, bursitis, and neck pain or headaches.

Many workplace injuries are caused by repetitive stress or cumulative-trauma disorders. These injuries occur when abnormal stresses are repeatedly placed on normal joints by poor posture or poor joint position during a task. Poor workstation design and repetitive task performance are detrimental. Add poor posture to a poorly designed workstation and there is bound to be trouble.

Ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to employee capabilities. Ergonomic principles are used to make it easier for employees to safely and productively do their jobs. There are three basic principles of proper ergonomics:

First, when lifting, the largest muscles in the area should perform the task. The larger the muscle group used for lifting, the lower the stress placed on smaller, more vulnerable muscles. For example, when you are lifting from the floor, keep your back straight and lift with your legs.

Second, 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. A desk and chair that are the proper height will help keep everything at eye level and within easy reach.

Third, when performing tasks, it is important to keep the joints either in their neutral posture or about halfway into the range of motion. Working with your joints at the extremes of their ranges of motion places abnormal stresses on them.

It is also important to take micro-breaks often, stretching your neck, arms, wrists, back and legs. Standing up and stretching your legs with a short walk every 30 minutes will also prevent injury.

For more tips on preventing workplace injuries, contact Dr. Wendy at haydenhealth@gmail.com.

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