Many workers in the U.S.A. are in the office most of the day and it is easy to make the mistake thinking there are no safety concerns in an office. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries or pain in the musculoskeletal system and can include the joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and other structures in the human body. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), "workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively.” Continuing to do these activities on a regular basis can increase the risk of injury.
Workers who are regularly sitting at a desk can easily be injured because of the repetitive movement they do every day. Some of these movements can include, but are not limited to:
- Sitting for long periods of time
- Bad posture while sitting
- Working at a computer for long periods
- Answering the phone
- Other activities with high repetition
OSHA encourages "fitting a job to a person” to help lessen the number of injuries and also increase productivity. This is called ergonomics. Musculoskeletal disorders are some of the most commonly reported causes of lost work time and it is important to consider alternatives at all levels of activity.
The Safety and Health Magazine offers some tips for creating a more ergonomically correct work place. Consider incorporating these tips if you sit for long periods. It is important to prevent injury compared to treating an injury after the fact:
- Ensure your chair is adjusted so your feet rest on the floor and your knees are level with your hips. Use a footrest if your chair is too high for you to comfortably rest your feet on the floor. No lumbar support? Use a cushion between the curve of your back and the back of your chair.
- Keep items you regularly use – including the telephone or a stapler – close to your body to avoid unnecessary stretching throughout the day.
- Position your computer mouse close to your keyboard, and keep your wrist relaxed when using the mouse.
- Keep your wrist in a straight position when typing – not bent up or down – and consider using a wrist rest to help minimize stress.
- Do you talk a lot on the phone? Cradling a phone between your head and neck can cause strain. Use a headset to eliminate this issue.
- Pay attention to your posture. Keep your body centered in front of your monitor and keyboard, and your thighs horizontal with your knees.
- Make sure you have plenty of space under your desk for your legs, knees and thighs. Mayo Clinic recommends having a desk at least 19 inches deep, 30 inches wide and up to 34 inches high (depending on your height).
- Keep your monitor about an arm’s length in front of you.
- To help avoid glare, keep the brightest light source in your office to the side of your monitor.
One Team. One Vision. One Goal. – Everyone Goes Home Safe!