As a business owner, you probably spend more time thinking about economics than ergonomics. But did you know that 40 to 75 percent of work related injuries happened because of poor ergonomics? The most common work-related injury is back pain. Often caused by ordinary work activities such as sitting in a desk chair or heavy lifting, back pain can hinder an employee’s ability to work efficiently.
By incorporating certain ergonomics principles into the workplace, you can help to prevent work-related injuries, like back pain. The purpose of ergonomics is to adapt the workplace to a specific worker. This includes the required tasks and physical make up of the employee performing those tasks. From a business perspective, a good ergonomic program can cut workers’ compensation costs 60 to 90 percent. And that return-on-investment is substantial. Here are five tips recommended for employees for improving ergonomics and posture in the workplace:
Create an ergonomic workspace
You can strain your spine if your keyboard or computer screen is not positioned properly. While it may require some investment, you should create an ergonomic workspace. Arrange objects around your desk so that you minimize the distance you have to reach for them. This includes your mouse, keyboard, stapler, tape, etc. If your company allows, request a standing desk. Standing is healthier than sitting and can boost energy levels.
Improve your posture
If you maintain poor posture for long periods of time you are more likely to experience muscle pain and possible headaches. For that reason, you should always sit with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Never slouch in your chair or hunch over your desk. Choose a comfortable chair that offers back and neck support, this will allow you to sit at your desk without straining your muscles. Also, always try to avoid crossing your legs while sitting.
Get up and move around
Sitting behind a desk all day will allow your muscles to tire. As a result, slouching and other poor postures become more prevalent. And poor posture can put added pressure on your neck and back. In order to maintain good posture, it’s important to change positions frequently. The best thing you can do for your body is to get up and move around. If possible, take a walk every half hour for two minutes.
Stretch at your desk
In addition to taking regular breaks, you should also stretch every half hour. Stretching will give your muscles a chance to relax, which can reduce strain and fatigue. It can also boost your overall energy level. While it may feel awkward stretching at your desk, sitting for long periods of time is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Take a couple minutes to stretch your neck, back and arms.
Wear supportive footwear
Spending long hours on your feet can wreak havoc on your body. Not only do your feet feel pain, but also the rest of your body. This is especially true for your legs, hips and back. Wearing supportive footwear can alleviate some of this stress. Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes regularly. They can affect the body’s center of gravity and change the alignment of the entire body.
To wrap things up, a comfortable workplace can help your employees feel their best at work. And when employees feel their best, they perform at their best. Having a good ergonomic program is a win-win for both the business owner and employees.
Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology Inc., manufacturers, fabricates, and sells t-slotted aluminum extrusions and accessories like ergonomic workstations to industries as well as individuals.