Save Your Joints: How to Make Your Workspace More Ergonomic
According to the American Chiropractic Association, approximately 31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain at any given time. Such pain is the leading cause of failure to turn up at the workplace. If you spend a lot of time sitting behind a desk, you need to set up an ergonomic workstation.
Low back pain is a common factor in disability cases the world over. Professionals in the medical field predict that about 80% of the population will suffer from back pain at one time or another. Poor posture significantly contributes to the problem.
A majority of the people do not realize that an unfriendly workspace may cause injury to their joints. Poor ergonomic practices do not only cause injury but also lead to decreased productivity.
Keep on reading to learn how you can create an ergonomic workplace for enhanced productivity.
Taking Care of your Sitting Space
A good office chair does not have to be expensive. Ergonomic chairs like the Herman Miller Aeron have become very popular, but if you cannot afford such, do not fret. You can upgrade your old chair with some simple techniques that do not require the services of a professional.
- Place a comfortable cushion to keep your back in good posture. A hard chair will do your joints no good. Since you will be spending much time in this chair, you better ensure that you are as comfortable as possible.
- Ensure you have some armrests on which to place your arms when you are not actively doing some work. Their position should allow the shoulders and elbows to stay relaxed.
- Ensure that the height is adjustable. You should sit in a position that leaves your thighs parallel to the floor. The feet should also remain flat and firmly fixed to the ground.
Desk, Keyboard and Mouse Position
It is essential that the desk you use is tailored to suit your positioning needs. In matters of ergonomics, no one size fits all. Your monitor and display devices should be at your eye level.
The keyboard and mouse positioning is equally important. Ensure that you do not bend too low or stretch yourself too high to reach them. Reaching the devices at the wrong angle can cause strain on the elbows and wrists.
The mouse and keyboard should be as close as possible to each other. Check to see that the alphanumerical part of the keyboard is centrally placed on the desk.
Struggling to reach input devices can expose the body to fatigue and injury, especially at the joints. Ergonomics dictate that you should not have to turn your neck upward, downward, or sideways to view a display device.
Keep Repetitive Movement at a Minimum
An ideal ergonomic workstation is one that strives to keep musculoskeletal disorders at bay. Most of the conditions are caused by repetitive movement. Repeating the same motion for a long time is a sure recipe for stress and injury to the joints.
Repetitive movement is a frequent occurrence in many enterprise settings. The best way to handle this problem is to alter tasks intermittently. Performing a different move even if for a short time reduces the potential of putting the body tissues under stress.
Where changing tasks is not possible, changing the neutral positioning is encouraged. For example, instead of remaining in the sitting position, you can try standing or reclined sitting to shift the musculature in use.
Keeping Documents and Telephone at Reach
Incorrect positioning of the source of your documents and the telephone can be problematic for you. Place the documents tray directly in front of you on your desk. Depending on the space available on the working table, it can be placed between the keyboard and the monitor.
Alternatively, place your documents adjacent to the monitor.
The telephone should easily be reachable, and telephone stands can play a fantastic role in the correct positioning. For much more ease in using the phone, make it a habit of using a speakerphone if possible to eliminate cradling the handset.
Move Around in Intervals
If you work in an office, this is perhaps the most important thing for you to remember. Getting off the seat and moving around should be a part of your office habits. Avoid sitting for more than one hour consecutively.
While you take a break from your seat, grab a glass of water or walk down the hall. Anything that gets you off the chair but does not distract your work is good for you.
Employers who do not encourage an ergonomic workplace atmosphere are wrong-headed. A workplace that takes care of your health first is a productive environment.
The Overall Working Environment
When talking about an ergonomic workstation, the overall environment cannot be overlooked. Ensure that the lighting, humidity, temperature, and conveniences are well considered. Check to see that:
- The light does not reflect on the computer screen causing glare
- The lighting for reading is not the same as that for computer displays
- There should be attempts to maintain temperature levels that are comfortable for everyone using the office space.
Ideally, colder temperatures should be avoided as they are known to cause MSD injuries. You may need to visit medical facilities before these injuries affect your muscles, tendons, nerves, and joints.
Ergonomic Workstation Accessories
Many office equipment manufacturers understand the need to develop ergonomic workstation supplies. They aim to help individuals and enterprises improve their working environment. As such, make it a habit of using accessories like:
- Headsets if you talk on the phone for the better part of the day. This will save your neck and leaves your hands free for other activities.
- An adjustable document holder for reading printed documents
- A balance ball chair
The workplace is where you are most of your time, and you want to ensure that it is as comfortable as possible. Ergonomic workstations are not hard to achieve if you put your mind to it.
Your employer might have put effort to give you a pleasant working environment, but you also must be pretty mindful of your posture. Having a comfortable working environment does not help if you do not make proper use of it.
Taking care of your health is important to your career. At Meritage Medical Network, we have doctors to help you whenever you need health services. All you need to do is to join our network.