The term “ergonomics” is derived from two Greek words: “ergon,” meaning work, and “nomoi,” meaning natural laws. Ergonomists study human capabilities in relationship to work demands.
Ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. Effective and successful “fits” assure high productivity, avoidance of illness and injury risks, and increased satisfaction among the workforce. Although the scope of ergonomics is much broader, the term here refers to assessing those work-related factors that may pose a risk of musculoskeletal disorders and recommendations to alleviate them. Common examples of ergonomic risk factors are found in jobs requiring repetitive, forceful, or prolonged exertions of the hands; frequent or heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying of heavy objects; and prolonged awkward postures. Vibration and cold may add risk to these work conditions. Jobs or working conditions presenting multiple risk factors will have a higher probability of causing a musculoskeletal problem. The level of risk depends on the intensity, frequency, and duration of the exposure to these conditions. Environmental work conditions that affect risk include intensity, frequency and duration of activities.
Choosing the Right Chair
Prolonged sitting is a frequent cause of back and neck pain. And while extended periods of sitting are best avoided, for many, it’s a fact of life.
When sitting, it’s important to keep the back straight, knees bent, and head centered over the shoulders. Slouching forward may be comfortable and allow the spinal muscles to relax but gradually overstretches spinal ligaments, leading to back and neck pain among other problems. We always encourage patients to maintain a “neutral spine” position at all time is ideal.
Adjusting Your Monitor
Maintaining the correct monitor height will prevent many problems with your eyes, neck and upper back. A monitor improperly positioned can irritate neck musculature, alter the normal spinal curves, induce eyestrain and even initiate migraine headaches.
Setting Up Your Workstation
Having a well planned, ergonomically designed workstation increases productivity, minimizes repetitive stress injuries, increases employee morale, and increases the bottom line. Since everybody has different tasks and different body types, no one workstation setup is ideal for everyone. There are, however, some basic guidelines that should be abided by when designing a workstation.
Taking Mini-Breaks & Stretching
Taking small periodic breaks doesn’t just allow you to have a mini-mental vacation from the constant reins of work, it’s also an important opportunity to reduce built-up physical tension by stretching out your contracted and tensed body. Every 30 to 40 minutes your body needs to move, stretch and get out of any position that it’s been stuck in.
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