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Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the study of the relationship between people, their work, and their physical work environment. The purpose of the Company's Ergonomics Program is to promote employee health by limiting ergonomic risk factors.

The human body is always at work. Even while seated, postural muscles are working to support the upper body and head. If these muscles, or others, face prolonged exertion, fatique and even injuries could develop. 

Your workstation setup and activities may force you to maintain an awkward posture or expose you to compressive forces for long periods of time. Inappropriate postures and compression can impede the flow of blood, impinge nerves, and injure soft tissue.

Rest is essential to ensuring a healthy musculoskeletal system. Taking frequent breaks will help to lower the risk of ergonomic injury.

General Ergonomics

Posture

  • Avoid maintaining the same body position (e.g. sitting or standing) for an extended period of time:
    • Take microbreaks.
    • Shift your weight around often.
    • Alternate tasks frequently.
  • Avoid awkward body postures.
  • Avoid resting arms on sharp table edges.
    • Pad table edges with foam, or use a cushion.

Seating

Before working, always adjust your chair properly. Here are some guidelines: 

  • Your feet should rest comfortably on the floor or footrest.
  • Sit all the way back.
    • The chair should provide adequate back support.
  • The front edge of the chair should not press against the back of the knees.
  • Armrests should not hinder your work activities.
  • Remove items from under your workstation to provide legroom.

Standing

  • If standing for a long time, use the following tips:
    • Rest one foot on a step stool. Alternate feet regularly.
    • Wear low-heeled shoes with good cushioning. Floor mats with cushioning can provide additional comfort.

Sholders

  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows by your sides.
    • Place frequently used items close to your body to avoid excessive reaching.
  • Avoid raising your elbows higher than shoulder level.
    • Use ladders and stools to reach for items on high shelves.

Additional Guidelines

  • Choose the right equipment for the job and know how to use it properly.

Break and Microbreak Suggestions

  • Avoid strain from completing repetitive tasks (such as typing) for long periods by taking short, two minute breaks or switching to other tasks at least every thirty minutes.
  • Take thirty-second microbreaks every ten minutes to rest the upper and lower extremities, back, neck, and eyes.

Ideas for taking short breaks:

  • Position your printer in an area that requires you to stand up and walk to get each printout.
  • Break up continuous computer time by checking phone messages, reading reports, etc.
  • Go to the restroom or get a cup of coffee or water.
  • Stand up when taking phone calls.

Exercises and Stretching

Exercises and stretches can help lower the risk of developing an ergonomic injury. Physical fitness is an important aspect of overall health, and exercise should be integrated into your daily life. Some basic workstation exercises and stretches are described below.

Note that the activities may help prevent future injuries but are not meant to cure existing ones. If you have an existing injury, consult your physician first. Always obtain medical consent prior to beginning any exercise program.

If you get hurt or start experiencing recurring discomfort, you should immediately report it and obtain a medical evaluation.

Exercises

Eyes

  • Eyes around the clock
    • Look straight ahead.
    • Without moving your head or straining your eyes, focus on the one o’clock position of an imaginary clock in front of you.
    • Then, focus on the two o’clock, the three o’clock, and so on, until you reach the twelve o’clock position.
    • Perform the exercise again, counterclockwise.

Neck and shoulders

  • Shoulder circles
    • Lift your shoulders towards your head.
    • Pinch your shoulder blades together and roll your shoulders back.
    • Then let the shoulders drop down to their starting position.
    • Try moving your shoulders in a circular manner.
    • Repeat as desired.
  • Shoulder shrugs
    • Lift your shoulders toward your head.
    • Hold for one to three seconds, then relax.
    • Repeat as desired.
  • Shoulder pinches
    • Pinch your shoulder blades together.
    • Hold for one to three seconds, then relax.
    • Repeat as desired.

Hands

  • Catch and release
    • Slowly clench your fists, then hold for a few seconds.
    • Slowly open your hands and spread your fingers, then hold for a few more seconds.
    • Repeat as desired.
  • Flex and extend
    • Raise your arms out in front of you with your palms facing down and fingers flat.
    • Slowly extend your wrists and fingers so that they point upwards.
    • Hold this position for a few seconds.
    • Then, slowly lower your wrists and fingers until they are pointed towards the ground.
    • Hold for a few seconds.
    • Repeat as desired.

Stretches

Eyes

  • Tightly close your eyes for a second, then open them wide. Repeat several times.
  • Refocus your eyes momentarily on an object at least 20 feet away.

Neck

  • Slowly turn your head to one side and hold for 10 seconds. Alternate sides and repeat several times.
  • Slowly tilt your head to one side and hold for five to 10 seconds. Alternate sides and repeat several times.

Hands

  • Put your hands together, with your fingers spread apart and fingertips at chin level.
  • Slowly lower your hands, peel them apart, then reverse the process.
  • Repeat several times.

Lower back

  • Stand up from your chair.
  • With your hands on your hips and your feet about shoulder-width apart, slowly lean your hips forward and your shoulders slightly back.
  • Hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds.

References


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