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Slips, trips and falls may be your first thoughts when talking about office related injuries, but there are small, significant instances that can be painfully affecting your entire staff. Musculoskeletal Disorders (MD) are the leading cause of pain, suffering and disability in the workplace, accounting for 33% of all workers’ compensation costs. MD includes, but is not limited to back, neck and shoulder pain, stiff and sore muscles, Carpal Tunnel, arthritis, tendinitis and headaches.If your employees are like me-working long hours sitting upright at a desk in front of a computer- being comfortable in the office is a major perk. Whether it’s a casual dress code, access to coffee (lots of coffee!!) or safe, supportive office equipment, it plays a large part in employee happiness and productivity. But also like me, your employees may be experiencing some not-so-comfortable aches and pains from the office that you can easily and affordably address.
Ergonomics, or the study of human efficiency in the workplace, has become somewhat of a buzz word in the office world, especially now that the look and feel of offices are changing. Open, shared, non-traditional work spaces are all the rage and outfitting those spaces with comfortable and safe equipment also plays a productive part of this new outlook on office space. And while aesthetics are important, selecting products that prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders can give you a big return on your investment.
Check out these Musculoskeletal Disorders and how you can prevent them with easy office options that will support your employees, but won’t break your bank:
Back, neck and shoulder issues in the office can stem from force, repetition and inactivity. Exerting too much force on the back by lifting or moving heavy objects can cause serious injury.
Repeating certain movements, especially those that involve twisting or rotating the spine, can lead to major discomfort and lead to further injury. An inactive job or a desk job can contribute to back pain, especially if your employees has poor posture or sits all day in a chair with inadequate back support. These issues can all be prevented with proper desks and chairs.
Lifty desks have grown increasingly popular over the years, allowing employees to stand, adjusting the height from sitting to standing with room for all types of office chairs. Being able to stand can help stretch out the back, relieve the pressure on hip joints and improve posture.
You can also purchase adjustable desktops- these pieces sit on-top of stationery desks and can lift to any height. These are easy to install and can be much cheaper than switching out all your regular desks.
Though standing and adjustable desktops address certain issues, too much standing can have its downfalls too. You may want to look into anti-fatigue mats. These mats have thick cushioning that reduces pressure on the spine and legs and stimulates blood circulation in the feet.
Lift Desk: I used a desk like this at my previous job. It’s no-nonsense. A button up, a button down and portals for all the cords. In the world of lifty desks, the price tag on this one is definitely fair. Tons of different color options to match your office style.
Adjustable desktop: This one won’t break the bank. It has 2 shelves, which is perfect for a keyboard and monitors with plenty of space for paperwork and that framed picture of your cat.
Chair: This is tricky. I’m not 100% sold on form-fitting, crazy ergonomic chairs. Most office chairs nowadays have height, armrest and back adjustments. My opinion- don’t go crazy trying to pick one. Keep it simple. Don’t be afraid to check out alternatives either. I sat on a big, rubber exercise ball and loved it! Keeps the hips loose, the core engaged and it’s pretty fun to bounce on.
According to the Mayo Clinic, carpal tunnel syndrome is “the compression of the median nerve at the wrist, which may result in numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle atrophy in the hand and fingers.” Carpal tunnel is common in those who use the keyboard, 10 key, and rely heavily on the mouse. Providing employees with ergonomic keyboards and supportive mouse pads is a cheap way to address this. Regularly stretching, taking short breaks and wearing wrist wraps can also help.
Tendinitis is localized pain in or around a tendon, which is a band of fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone and transmits the force and action of the muscle. Tendons are designed to withstand bending, stretching, and twisting, but they can become inflamed if fibers are torn or damaged. This can be caused by heavy lifting, making repetitive movements related to office equipment and not take care of those muscle properly. Similar to Carpal Tunnel, Tendinitis can be prevented with stretching and taking breaks from repetitive movement.
Keyboard: I am not a big fan of the split keyboard, I don’t find it comfortable, but you can find keyboards with soft, tight spaced buttons, so you aren’t straining fingers or pounding to type.
Mouse pad: This is the one I have. I don’t use the mouse that much day to day, but it definitely makes for more comfortable movement. And it’s squishy!
Wrist wraps and braces: I have a few wrist braces from sports injuries and they come in handy when I’ve been doing a lot of typing. This particular one is very comfortable, not too bulky and great for some added support.
I don’t think it's news to anyone that we all spend a lot of time staring at a screen. Whether it is a computer, phone or TV, we are straining our eyes and bombarding our brains with information. It's a wonder we aren’t all running around with headaches. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), according to TIME includes “eye strain, redness, irritation or dryness, a burning feeling in the eyes, blurred or double vision after computer use, headaches and neck and shoulder pain” and affects 64% to 90% of office workers. For most, not looking at your computer screen for work means you lose your job- ENTER computer glasses. Yep! There is eye wear that can protect from blue light, the light admitted from screens that contracts the eyes and causes eye strain
Computer Glasses: I should own a pair of these, but I don't. I asked around and Amazon has some pretty good deals on blue light glasses. If your employees are worried about looks and fashion, you can find some slick styles on Pixel. A little more pricey, but they make a statement.
To prevent and address most Musculoskeletal Disorders, you can implement a handful of regiments at a decent price- free. Enforcing breaks and stretching time, encouraging employees to get up from their desks and walk and work other muscle groups is a great way to protect your employees and your business from serious injuries.
Download this free office stretching poster provided by ErgoHealth.
Also, have employees arrange their desktops to be user-friendly, keeping phones, pens and notebooks at their finger tips for less reaching and straining for the items they use the most.
While it may seem like a huge spend to purchase fancy office equipment just for a few aches and pains, it can save you in the long run. Workers Comp Claims can add up. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 650,000 work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders, results in costs to employers of over 20 billion dollars. These costs include Worker's Compensation and medical expenses, the latter of which are increasing 2.5 times faster than benefit costs. Taking the time to identify, review and address these issues will more than make up for the cost of any equipment you purchase, because the results are happy, healthy, productive employees.