Computer Monitor Height
Make sure your computer monitor is properly adjusted to maximize body comfort.
Having your chair properly adjusted is important to lower discomfort, that includes your chair’s armrest.
Reduce Wrist Strain – Ergonomic Tip
Lower your risk of wrist injury by following these helpful hints.
Interesting video on turtling in your chair
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.
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?
Orthopedic surgeon Nomi Kahn says:
“Most of us do not sit well, and we’ve certainly been putting a lot more stress on our spines,” says Khan, who operates on spines at Sutters Health’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
If we change the way we sit, Khan says, it will help to decrease back problems.
“We should sit less, and we should sit better,” he says.
Over the past century or so, many Americans have lost the art of sitting, he says. Most people in the U.S. — even children — are sitting in one particular way that’s stressing their backs. You might not realize you’re doing it. But it’s super easy to see in other people.
Here’s how: Take a look at people who are sitting down – not face-on but rather from the side, in profile, so you can see the shape of their spine.
There’s a high probability their back is curving like the letter C — or some version of C. Or it might make you think of a cashew nut, sitting in the chair. There are two telltale signs: Their shoulders curve over and their butts curve under. That posture is hurting their backs, Khan says.
“Most people tend to round out their backs when they sit,” Khan says. “Their spine is in an improper position, and they will tend to have more back problems.”
Back problems crop up because sitting like a C — or a cashew nut — can damage the little shock absorbers in the spine, called the intervertebral disks.
“You can think of a disk as a jelly doughnut,” Khan says. “Sitting like a C puts a lot more pressure on the front of the doughnut than on the back.”
And what happens when you press down on one side of a jelly doughnut but not the other side? Jelly can squirt out.
Your spinal disks aren’t much different. Sitting in a C-shape, over time, can cause disk degeneration. Or one side of a disk can start to bulge. “The disk can then push against nerves, or it can rupture,” says biomechanists who direct the Spine Research Institute at Ohio State University.
“When the disks get messed up, you’ve got real problems,” Marras says. “So everything we do in biomechanics is to try to protect the disks.”
Are there experiments you can do? Take a look at the people around. Look for the “C.” Read the full article and hear the audio here.
By Ann Hall, Ergonomist
Kids carrying backpacks? Check out these Ergonomic Tips:
Check their backpack every once in a while. In fact, if it feels pretty heavy, put it on a scale. If the weight is too much, find things to take out. Perhaps they don’t need to bring home every book, every day or they have a lot of clutter items that are just adding weight.
If they wear a backpack, make sure it fits them. Try on backpacks and make sure you have a good fit. Children should have backpacks designed for smaller frames and young adults should have backpacks designed for them. If you know that you have body dimensions such as a short torso, keep that in mind when purchasing.
Ideally the heaviest part of the load will be tight and close to the body, not drooping way down. Strive to have the bulk of the bag between the shoulders and the hips. Avoid letting the back pack hang more than 2-4 inches below the waist. The straps should always fit snugly to keep the bag close against the body and reduce swaying.
A bag with compartments is great, not just for organization, but it helps control the shifting of items in the backpack which can make the load become unbalanced. Best practice is to use the compartments to help distribute the load within the backpack. Make sure when you do this that you try to spread things out evenly, between the left and right side, and again heaviest items towards the back of the pack (side closest to the body).
Make sure the backpack has good straps, they are adjusted to fit the child and that the kids use both straps. Straps help absorb some of the load. Wide, padded shoulder straps help reduce the stress on the body. Be sure to readjust the straps to accommodate either heavier or lighter clothing during season changes.
Bags that you sling over one shoulder increase strain on one side of the body. Use double strapped bags that place a strap over each shoulder, not just one. Better yet, look for a back pack with both waist and chest straps too. Waist straps help to distribute the weight load and can reduce pressure in the shoulders. A chest strap helps keep the shoulder straps stable and reduces shifting of the load.
Coach them on proper use. Even if you have the perfect bag for your child, it is not a guarantee that they will use it the way you intended. Give them a little coaching when you see them over-stuffing the bag or carrying the bag using only one of the straps.