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Office Ergonomics - Common Office Injuries

Musculoskeletal problems continued...

Good posture will also help prevent musculoskeletal injuries.

  • Stand tall, to keep the natural curves camera.gif in your back. Slouching increases stress on your back and can also make you feel less energetic. If you stand for long periods, try putting one foot up on a low stool periodically to change your position. Bring reading material up to you, rather than leaning over a low desk.
  • Use good sitting posture camera.gif. Relax your shoulders, keep your feet flat on the floor, and avoid leaning close to tasks on your desk.
  • Turn your whole body to your task instead of twisting.

If you have to lift, do not use a back belt. Back belts do not reduce strains or other injuries. And they may even increase your chance of injury by making you overconfident, so you try to lift more than you should. To lift safely camera.gif:

  • Keep the object you want to lift close to you.
  • Bend your knees and keep your back straight as you grasp the object, then straighten your knees to lift it up.
  • Don't try to lift something by yourself that is too heavy, too awkward to carry, or that will not allow you to see where you are walking.
  • Try a "golfer's lift" for very light objects such as a pen or piece of paper. Bend one knee slightly and allow your other leg to come off the floor behind you as you bend over. Hold on to a desk or stable chair for support.

To help prevent falls, keep walkways clear of cords, clutter, and spills. Close drawers completely after you use them. Use stepladders instead of chairs to reach high objects. Report any hazards such as loose carpeting or burned-out lights. And wear shoes appropriate to your job and environment.

Maintain good health through:

  • Regular exercise.
  • Proper nutrition.
  • Not smoking.
  • Following prescribed treatment for any other health conditions you have.

Good general health, including strength and flexibility, can help prevent injuries. It will also help you recover faster if you are injured.

Vision problems

Typical workplace vision problems include:

  • Eye problems from either too little or too much lighting. Poor lighting can lead to:
    • Eyestrain and irritation.
    • Watery eyes and red, swollen eyelids.
    • Double vision.
    • Decrease in the ability to focus the eyes and see clearly.
  • Headaches from straining to see clearly.
  • Neck and back pains due to hunching over to see small items.
  • Accidents due to poor lighting, glare, shadows from lighting, or moving from a well-lighted area to a dark area.

Solutions. You can reduce your risk of vision problems from improper lighting with:

  • Full-spectrum lights, which may help reduce eyestrain.
  • Task lighting (such as lights above your workstation or on your desk), which can increase the level of light in your office and allow you the flexibility to position the light where it is needed most.
  • Monitor screens that reduce glare, such as plasma screens or removable glare guards.
  • Proper placement of computer screens. Do not place a computer screen in front of or next to a window. This creates a contrast problem and visual stress. If you do sit next to a window, the best placement for your monitor is at a right (90-degree) angle to the window.
  • Window blinds or tinted glass, to reduce sun glare while still allowing filtered light into your office.

It's also a good idea to have an eye exam every 1 or 2 years. If you wear bifocals or reading glasses, you may want to adjust your monitor so that you don't have to tilt your head back to see clearly. Or consider full-frame reading glasses for computer use. There are also progressive lenses available that have a reading prescription at the bottom, a mid-distance prescription that is good for computer use in the middle of the lens, and a long-distance prescription at the top of the lens. The lens has these three types of prescriptions in different areas of the glass and smooth transitions between types of prescriptions.

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