Reduce Wrist Strain – Ergonomic Tip
Lower your risk of wrist injury by following these helpful hints.
Reduce Wrist Strain – Ergonomic Tip
Lower your risk of wrist injury by following these helpful hints.
Interesting video on turtling in your chair
As employees struggle to self-diagnose and troubleshoot the discomfort they have at work, many reach out to management with a request for equipment. Without proper training and diagnosis, this can be a waste of resources or escalate the problem.
See if this sounds familiar:
An employee starts to experience constant or even occasional discomfort and will start to become preoccupied. They are unsure what they exactly need, but they know they need something. They may even start trying to find any excuse they can to step away from their desk.
It occurs to them that maybe a new piece of hardware will solve all their issues. “My desk is horrible. I need to be able to stand.” Management doesn’t seem to agree, so the employee seeks the support of a medical professional. They book an appointment and lay out their case – the only think that will make them better is this new piece of office equipment and possibly some anti-inflammatory medication.
The medical professional without ever seeing the person’s work setup or how they interact within that setup writes a doctor’s note recommending an “ergonomic sit stand desk.” The employee takes the note to management to get approval of a new desk. The employer buys the cheapest intervention they can find, which is something that sits on top of the existing desk and will allow the person to stand. This is delivered to the employee and unfortunately 3 months later not only do the symptoms still exist, they are worse.
Preoccupied employee = loss of productivity
Doctor visit = claim against insurance
Diagnosis without visuals and proper case management = inaccurate or incomplete documentation in the system
New desk hardware that doesn’t solve problems = wasted resources
Employee with unresolved high discomfort = Increased risk of injury
Is there a better way?
Many companies with a proactive ergonomics program will tell you – absolutely. Let’s look how this situation plays out different in a company with a comprehensive ergonomics program.
The employee starts to have discomfort. Instead of letting things escalate, they go into their online ergonomics portal and take a survey. This survey collects key information on how they work and where they are having discomfort. Upon completion of the survey the person gets a set of recommendations and training based upon their responses.
The employee is feeling a bit better, but still has some discomfort. The ergonomist stops by for an evaluation. The ergonomist sees that the employee’s desk is too high. Putting something on top of the desk that raises the keying height for the individual is likely to make the discomfort worse.
The ergonomist instead recommends a keyboard tray that will allow the employee to bring the keying height lower to better fit their needs and allow them to get into a neutral posture. The ergonomist goes over how to use the equipment and how to best maintain their fit to avoid discomfort.
Employee concerns are addressed efficiently = Employee feels company cares and decision making is in hands of trained professional, which unburdens employee
External doctor visit not needed = no claim on insurance
Proper diagnosis from an expert who sees the work area, talks with employee and sees how the employee interacts within area = complete and more accurate documentation
New equipment may or may not be issued = A more educated allocation of resources based on need with emphasis on training and fit
Employee complaints addressed and managed = decrease risk of injury and increased morale
What many of us have learned in this industry is – what works to solve the problem of one employee will not necessarily work for the masses AND until you know what the problem is, it is very hard to treat it correctly.
A person has a leg injury. Would you order a cast or a band-aid? Is the leg broken or is it a scrape? Proper diagnosis is key to a proper solution.
No doubt hardware can help a situation, but it can also do the opposite by making things worse. Properly evaluating the situation and making educated recommendations based on the person and environment, this translates to a more accurate diagnosis and greater probability for success in the solution.
Check out this this quick Ergonomics video
Take a look at this quick 1 minute video tip and see where you should be putting your computer monitor! Can the right monitor reduce pain?
By Ergonomist Hank Austin
Are Your Shoulders and or Upper Back Sore? It could Be Your Desk!!!
Ergonomics is the science of fitting equipment to people. Typically, we see that people are struggling to fit to their office equipment-including their desks. Most companies have their desks set at one height for all their employees. Here are two examples that might give you a feel for the situation:
Both of these examples illustrate the issues with a one size fits all approach. Very few desks are actually properly fitted and comfortable.
Your initial response could be “This is ridiculous! No one would ever do that!” The reality is that most fixed desks are set at a height of 29”-30” high and that is way too high for the vast majority of the population that works on computers. We have a population of office workers that sit with their arms up on top of the desk causing a variety of issues including shoulder/upper back discomfort, pain, and/or injury.
Our data shows that an average of 60% of all computer users are in significant discomfort – that can include pain, numbness, and injury. What is this doing to your productivity? What do you think costs more over time: a one-time cost for proper equipment or equipment adjustment or a negative productivity impact that hits every hour, day, week, month and year?
Consider this: I am 6’-2” and the proper desk height for my keyboard is 25”. Yes 25”! That height allows me to sit back in my chair and relax my shoulders when typing, which lets the blood flow through them easily. When your shoulder muscles are contracted from being pushed up, they get tired and can start to hurt. Someone else at 6’-2” will likely have a different desk height than me as they may have a different length torso, lower legs, or upper arms which all impact your correct desk height fit. Good ergonomics is all about improving organizational performance by focusing on individual needs. A little well directed work in the right places can have big positive impact on the organization!
Desk height is also a big issue when using adjustable sit/stand desks. People do not intuitively know how to properly use this equipment, so they revert to what they’ve always had previously/experienced/known. They use a sit stand the same way they used to when they were forced into a position by a fixed desk that was at an improper height. Many who have a desk adjusted too high or too low when they stand can end up hurting their neck, back, or wrists.
We need to make sure that we are properly identifying these issues and training our people on how to avoid discomfort or injury. The “gold standard” of ergonomics is getting productivity up by making people comfortable! People tend to slow down, make more mistakes, and have difficulty focusing when they are hurting.
So, get your desk adjusted down or your chair up (and use a foot rest) so you can get into a neutral posture!
Hank Austin CSP, MS of ErgoSquad has many years of experience in developing and managing high performing ergonomics programs.
Welcome to the Victoria trial in Australia
The evaluation looked at the Stand Up Victoria trial – funded by VicHealth and the NHMRC, and led by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute – which supported 231 desk-based workers to stand up, sit less and move more via multiple strategies, including organisational support, health coaching, and sit-stand desks.
Twelve months after the intervention was introduced, participating workers achieved an average one hour per day reduction in their sitting time.
Would 1 hour make that much of a difference?
Lead author Dr Lan Gao, an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Deakin Health Economics, said too much sitting time was a critical health concern greatly exacerbated for those in desk-bound occupations – 45 per cent of Australian workers.
“Workplace sitting is the largest contributor to daily sitting time among office workers, and excessive sitting is associated with serious health issues like obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and shorter life expectancy,” Dr Gao said.
“This means it’s imperative we work towards both effective and cost-effective ways to decrease sitting time in the workplace.
“Sit-stand workstations – which allow the user to position the desk at a level convenient for sitting or standing – have been put forward as one possible solution to this issue, however up until now a barrier to their widespread introduction has been the perceived prohibitive cost.
“So far there has not been any published evidence of the cost-effectiveness of such workstations, particularly when coupled with the associated education and support that is needed to help ensure their uptake and sustained use, so ours is the first Australian study to show these interventions are good value for money.”
Deakin’s economic evaluation, published today in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, estimated that if the intervention was scaled up to reach 20 per cent of Australia’s office workers, it would cost $185.2 million, but would save 7492 “health adjusted life years” by preventing a range of obesity-related diseases.
Dr Gao said this equated to a cost of $28,703 per year saved, well below the often quoted threshold of $50,000 that society was typically willing to pay for these health savings.
Now that number may not seem like a lot, but remember the sample size!
She said the cost would also be partially offset by the $84.2 million saved in healthcare costs over the lifetime of these workers.
“Not only that, but from an employer’s perspective, adopting this workplace intervention also has the potential to reduce absenteeism and improve productivity,” she said.
“Before the trial participants spent an average of six hours per day sitting at work, 12 months into the trial that was reduced to five hours.
“Our evaluation shows that the introduction of sit-stand desks, alongside associated supports, is a cost-effective and innovative way to promote the health of Australia’s workforce.”
The net cost of the intervention was estimated at $344 per person, but Dr Gao said this could be reduced by economies of scale arising from bulk orders of sit-stand workstations, sharing workstations between part-time workers, and providing support through online resources and local office champions.
“Ultimately this intervention has the potential to make a very significant and sustainable positive impact on reducing workplace sitting time, but most importantly it is also cost-effective, which we know is critical in making the case for a wider rollout of this program,” she said.
Four Simple Ergonomic Steps to a More Productive Workplace
Paying attention to ergonomics pays off by removing barriers to productivity.
With any task, selecting the proper tool is crucial. The key is to understand the work process and employees’ safety needs. After identifying the likely risk factors in an operation, develop a safer work environment by carefully selecting the tools and workstations workers will use…
7 Ways to Make Employee Workstations Safer with Ergonomics
A study utilizing investment simulations for 17 publicly held companies with strong health or safety programs for employees suggests that employers that invest significantly in health and safety programming can outperform other companies in the marketplace. The study, published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), is featured in a special section highlighting the impact health and safety programs
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM)
A study utilizing investment simulations for 17 publicly held companies with strong health or safety programs for employees suggests that employers that invest significantly in health and safety programming can outperform other companies in the marketplace.
Ergonomics may indeed have a positive influence on a company’s investment value. The study was sponsored by the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) Integrated Health and Safety Institute.
Lead author Raymond Fabius, MD, co-founder of HealthNEXT, and colleagues studied the stock market performance of companies that had applied for or received ACOEM’s Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA), which annually recognizes the healthiest and safest companies in North America. To be considered for the CHAA, companies must be engaged in measurable efforts to reduce health and safety risks among their employees.
The authors tracked the stock market performance of 17 CHAA applicants or recipients with proven health and/or safety programs using six investment modeling scenarios. Companies studied had achieved high CHAA scores in either health or safety, or in both categories. Investment scenarios were created and analyzed for the period spanning 2001 to 2014, using a hypothetical initial investment of $10,000.