It’s 2 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon; you feel the bags under your eyes getting heavier, but you are determined to meet your deadlines. You look around the office and your fellow employee to your left has her hand around the back of her neck, rolling her head from left to right and back; the employee to your right has both hands above his head and leaning as far back as possible; the employee across from you is massaging her shoulder. Now you have the sudden urge to stand up and walk around to find relief, being aware of the body aches from sitting too long and staring at the same screen for so many hours.
This might not always be the case in your daily work routine, but we all know the feeling; whether in the workplace or at school, we’ve sat in chairs that hurt our back, looked at computer screens that were in positions that strained our neck, and used other work equipment and furniture that made it difficult to focus and get work done.
The workplace should be safe and healthful; however, work-related mucsculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for one of the leading causes of lost workday injury and illness. MSDs include pinched nerve, herniated discs, sprains/strains, pain, and carpal/tarsal tunnel syndrome. These conditions can create worker’s compensation claims, sick days off, lost productivity, and decreased performance. Ergonomics, or the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment, can be applied to reduce the risk of developing MSDs.
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics is a real scientific discipline that involves research for design improvement of office equipment and systems and anything that will enhance the ways in which a person works in the workplace.
- Management Support and Worker Involvement: A critical aspect in the overall success in the ergonomic process is the communication between management and staff. Management should be committed to educating the workforce on issues pertaining to ergonomics and clearly address responsibilities that include reporting ergonomic problems.
- Proper Training: Training the workforce, whether it be training them to properly use equipment or by simply educating them about ergonomics and its benefits, ensures that the workers become aware of potential ergonomic problems, making them more inclined to report ergonomic problems that can cause MSDs.
- Identify Problems: Being able to identify and assess ergonomic problems is an important part of the ergonomic process as recognizing an ergonomic problem when it arises prevents MSDs.
- Implement Solutions: Modifying existing equipment, making changes in work practices, and purchasing new equipment can serve as solutions to reduce, control, or eliminate workplace MSDs.
Evaluate Progress: Periodically assessing corrective actions and checking to see if those corrective actions are improving or limiting work efficiency ensures long-term ergonomic success.
What Can Our Chiropractors do to Help?
Our chiropractors can assist with the ergonomics process by coming in to your workplace and conduct ergonomic assessments. During an assessment, our chiropractor will inspect your work area and analyze you, your posture, and movements while working. From his inspection, he will write up a report that includes recommendations for corrective action as well as recommend ergonomic products that will enhance worker productivity and reduce MSDs.