Did you know that many of the health problems that plague Americans today are caused by something we do every day? Work! The way we sit for the eight-or-so hours per day in an office or handle materials can lead to issues thanks to poor form and posture. From neck pain and wrist problems to backaches, it is important not to underestimate a good working environment. The best way to ensure workplace productivity and safety is by having an ergonomic workspace. Use these tips from your local wellness center in Denver on creating the ideal ergonomic place to work.
What is an ergonomic workspace?
Ergonomics is the designing of workspace to be efficient for an employee. It is rooted in the mentality that a work area should accommodate a person instead of forcing a person to adjust to the environment. Through ergonomics, spaces are tailored to each person to best fit their body. When this is achieved, it reduces the number of work injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. For many workers, when they think of a workplace injury, they think of a slip or fall in a warehouse or cutting themselves while using a piece of machinery. However, those in sedentary positions or in office settings should understand it is important to practice good techniques as repetitive motions in improper positions can lead to long-term issues.
Elements of an ergonomic area
In an office, each of the elements must work together to create a comfortable workspace. In fact, there are guidelines and standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding computer workstations
A few important ergonomic features your work area should have include:
- Desk: It is ideal to be able to roll a chair under a desk and comfortably sit. Ideally, you should sit with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can invest in an ergonomic footrest that will help you improve posture even more. Footrests are also encouraged if you have a chair that is not adjustable, where your feet cannot firmly touch the floor.
- Monitor: To avoid eye strain, make sure your monitor is directly forward at eye level. For distance, keep it about an arm’s length away.
- Keyboard and mouse: When typing, it is important to keep the wrists straight on the keyboard. Your arms should be close to your side. For the mouse, to keep it in a straight position, purchase a mousepad with a hand rest. This will keep your arm and hand straight while working.
- Phone: If you use a phone throughout the day, invest in a wireless headset. This will eliminate the strain of tilting your head and lifting your shoulder.
- Office supplies: For all supplies that you use frequently throughout the day, be sure they are within an arm’s length distance. This allows you to stay in your position without the strain of reaching and changing your position.
- Chair: Your office chair should have proper lumbar support for your lower back. This will align better with the spine, rather than a chair that leads you to sit in a slumped position. For height, you need to be able to have your feet flat on the floor, bent at nearly a perfect right angle.
- Lighting: The lighting in a room and level of dimness (or lack thereof) on a monitor can lead to eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, migraines, shoulder pain, and more. Glares, too much brightness, or improper distance can lead to some of these problems.
Common health issues from a poor work environment
When working in an environment that is not ergonomically-friendly, it can lead to long-term health issues. Some of these issues include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: When the median nerve, the main nerve leading to the hand, becomes pinched, it leads to pain in the hand. There may also be tingling of the hand, weakness or numbness. It is commonly caused due to repeating the same motions over and over, or improper position while working.
- Back issues: When sitting in improper posture throughout the day, back problems will become prevalent. It commonly occurs due to slumping and poor posture, often by sitting forward putting stress on various areas. In addition to have an ergonomic chair, standing desks are a great option for posture and for better blood flow throughout the day.
- Stiff neck: When accommodating your environment to a poor ergonomic environment, it is common to get a stiff neck. This occurs when repetitive improper positions can cause issues with soft tissue and joints in the neck and shoulders. In addition to using a headless phone set and keeping things within an arm’s length, make sure to stretch throughout the day, too.
- Arthritis: Did you know that arthritis is one of the common symptoms of those who work in poor ergonomically designed work environments? Arthritis is joint pain that can occur almost anywhere within the body. On top of creating a better-designed workspace, you can also learn about arthritis and using physical therapy in Denver to manage pain.
Physical therapy for the workplace
Seeing a physical therapist is a great way to complement your new, ergonomic work environment. Your local physical therapist will teach you proper posture for your seated position, typing, answering calls, and so much more. This helps to reduce workplace injuries, especially ones that can lead to long-term musculoskeletal disorders. Not only will this help you save money in the long run on doctor’s visits but will also help you to be a more productive employee!
When you are ready to enhance your work environment and performance, visit the Cherry Creek Wellness Center. Our staff will be able to show you all of the proper positions, stretches, and other benefits there are to an ergonomic workspace. Plus, if you are currently experiencing any issues with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, strains, and more, we will set up a plan of action to help relieve or even alleviate symptoms. With several locations in the Denver area, there is no reason not to see us! Schedule your appointment today at 303-333-3493.