What Is Ergonomic Hazard?
Ergonomic hazards are physical conditions that can harm a worker’s musculoskeletal system, including the lower back’s muscle and ligaments, tendons, and both the hand and wrist’s nerves, resulting in common ergonomic injuries known as musculoskeletal disorders. Some examples of these disorders are carpal tunnel syndrome, Tendinitis, and back pain, among others.
People who work at office desk jobs find themselves frequently at risk from suffering from these conditions unless their workplace already has in place the suitable measures to counteract most of these hazards. Proper ergonomic hazard control in a workplace is essential to improve employee productivity and focus while reducing their risk of injury.
What Are Some Potential Ergonomic Hazards in a Workplace?
As an office worker, it would be best if you never had to experience the harm that may come from ergonomic hazards in the workplace. Being aware of them can help, as it can make employers and employees try their best to improve their office environment to prevent ergonomic hazards. Here are five common ergonomic risks that may arise in your workplace.
1. Sedentary Work
Sitting for long periods without taking a break increases the risk of many health and mental issues, mainly because you only exert a small amount of energy while limiting your blood circulation when you’re sitting. Some of these ailments include musculoskeletal disorders, diabetes, and increased chances of cardiovascular diseases, regardless of how much time you spend exercising.
2. Awkward Posture
The way you sit at work can aggravate the effect that being sedentary brings. Having a bad posture on top of it can be significantly harmful to your back. Awkward limb and neck positions can also increase the risk of suffering from symptoms from work-related musculoskeletal disorders, such as repetitive strain injury and lower back pain.
Performing actions that involve continuous and repetitive hand or wrist movements contributes to physical health risks. Some of these actions include typing on a keyboard, looking through paperwork, and using the mouse or a calculator. These activities’ intensity can increase the potential risk that it brings, especially for desk work that requires high levels of concentration and information to process.
4. Forceful Actions
Many office tasks may require you to exert some force to do and using an amount larger than necessary to complete them can be detrimental to your health. It’s common for people who have developed work habits not to consider the effect of these actions but being mindful of it is a great way to prevent ergonomic hazards. Tapping your keyboard too hard and gripping your tools too tightly are some examples of forceful actions in the workplace.
5. Workplace Environment
An inadequate work environment can negatively impact your health and well-being, along with your and your co-worker’s concentration and communication efficiency, resulting in low work productivity and performance. Other things that can prove to be hazardous in the workplace are unsuitable temperatures, lousy lighting, and excessive noise. Unfortunately, this is an aspect that you can’t change by yourself unless you are self-employed or are an employer yourself.
Simple Ways to Prevent Ergonomic Hazards
Employers are responsible for conducting suitable risk assessments to identify these activities where your health and safety are at risk, to reduce them as much as possible by implementing ergonomic hazard control measures and other actions. Regardless, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do some things on your end to avoid harm from coming to you due to these ergonomic hazards present. Here are some simple ways that can help you prevent ergonomic hazards in your workplace.
Practice Good Posture
This measure is the best one you can take by yourself, as you can do it even while having conventional office chairs with minimum adjustability. Having a good posture while working reduces the risks of suffering from musculoskeletal disorders significantly. It may be hard to do for people with clear and established work habits, but here are some excellent posture indications to follow.
Your head must be level or slightly inclined forward while looking directly below the top of your computer screen. The shoulders must be relaxed, your upper arms naturally hanging beside your body with your close elbows position bent at nearly 90 degrees or a little more, and your back must have appropriate support. Your forearms, wrists, and hands must be straight and parallel to the ground, with your knees being no lower than your hips and the feet laid flat on the floor.
Something important to note is that using a laptop by itself is an ergonomic mistake because laptops don’t adhere to the basic ergonomic requirements, as the keyboard and screen aren’t separate. If your keyboard is in the correct position, the screen is not, and when the screen is, the keyboard isn’t. Having a separate keyboard can aid you in this case, as it enables you to raise the laptop screen by other means. If your work also requires constant use of the pointer, then a separate mouse is also advised.
Set up an Ergonomic Office
If you’re an employer, self-employed, or currently working from home, setting up your office with ergonomic chairs and home standing desks is a great idea that helps you enforce a neutral sitting posture. There are many excellent choices for ergonomic chairs and desks such as ErgoChair 2, Kinn Chair and SmartDesk 2 that can promote comfort and productivity while helping you maintain a good neutral position, thanks to the many adjustable features they have. These ergonomic solutions can significantly improve your workplace environment while reducing the inherent risk of potential ergonomic hazards.
Regardless of how good your posture is, sitting for prolonged times is not healthy. Implementing pauses or micro-pauses into your work activities can let you address many issues that come from repetitive tasks, sedentary work, and awkward postures. During these breaks, it’s essential to stretch your fingers, hands, arms, and torso.
Walking around and trying to occupy yourself with other tasks is also a good idea, as the task variety can help relax your muscles. You can do some mediation during work breaks to relieve stress. These procedures can increase your productivity and reduce your discomfort while letting you prevent ergonomic hazards and other risks associated with heavy computer usage.
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