Workplace Ergonomics

Tips to Improve Workplace Ergonomics

Ergonomics and Workplace injuries  I   Tips to improve workplace ergonomics  I  Ergonomic principles for Office desk, space, height, movement, sitting posture, repetitive movements, friction and access

Ergonomics at workplace has become very important as maximum part of the day is spent at workplace.

Posture while sitting, standing or working can make all the difference to your physical wellbeing giving rise to back pain, neck pain, shoulder and finger issues. Injuries that result from poor ergonomics are some of the most common and frequent kinds of injuries, and they are found in all kinds of workplaces and occupations.

What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics can be defined simply as the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.

A number of factors play a role in Ergonomics; these include :

  • Body posture and movement : sitting, standing, lifting, pulling and pushing
  • Environment : noise, lighting, temperature, humidity (Dul et al 1993)

Injuries caused from poor ergonomics are some of the most common and frequent kinds of injuries, many of these being musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). They may affect various parts of the body including arms, back, hands, wrists, fingers, legs, neck, shoulders. These problems if not tackled at an early stage can lead to chronicity which then becomes difficult to handle.

People spend most of their time in sitting position (for work), maximum time is spent on mobile. The next biggest chunk of time is taken by commute – now people commute for more than an hour everyday. All these activities and many more factors can contribute to workplace injuries

What are the key risk factors?

  • Working in awkward positions
  • Using high hand force
  • Performing repetitive motions
  • Using the hand or knee to make repeated impacts
  • Heavy, frequent or awkward lifting
  • Exposure to moderate to high levels of vibration
  • Sitting or standing too long in one position
  • Mechanical pressure (leaning against a hard edge)

 

 

What can be done to improve workplace ergonomics?

Here are the steps that can be taken by an organization to improve workplace ergonomics.

  1. Evaluate workplace design and setting
  2. Identify workplace issues: Understand the work flow at the workplace and identify the movement pattern and requirements, work demands, discomforts and painful activities (if any).
  3. Develop ergonomic plan
  4. Involve and include employees: Workplaces where employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier. While talking to them, you could also ask them some specific questions about their work such as:
  • Are their working postures comfortable (or not)?
  • Do they experience discomfort, aches, pain, fatigue, or feel unable to keep up with the flow of work?
  • Is the equipment appropriate, easy to use and well maintained?
  • Is the person satisfied with their working arrangements?
  • Do they make the same errors and mistakes repeatedly?
  • Are they following procedures, and if no, why not?

 

  1. Identify and implement the solution
  2. Re-evaluate the changes, to see if the solutions are effective

Hence, right equipment, right environment, right use/posture and right maintenance are the vital areas to be focused on.

Tips to improve workplace ergonomics:

Improving Workplace ergonomics may mean small changes to the area and furniture used at work. We list the key ergonomic principles beneath, that should be followed to make necessary changes:

Principle #1: Keep everything within easy reach

Rearrange tools and equipment, tilt work surface, reduce work surface dimensions to work within the normal range of motion.

Principle #2: Work at proper height

Elbow height is considered as the ideal height. Tilt surfaces if required.

Principle #3: Reduce excessive forces

Follow these quick and easy tips to reduce use of excessive force at

work.

  • Use double-handled tools to distribute effort
  • Ensure that the tool handles have comfortable span for a good grip
  • Keep loads close to the body
  • Avoid bending forward
  • Reduce pushing/pulling forces
  • Use transport accessories wherever required
  • Avoid twisting from the back
  • Avoid carrying out tasks overhead / above the shoulder level
  • Avoid carrying loads with one hand

 

Principle #4:  Work with good posture:

  • Maintain “neutral” posture
  • Keep arms and elbows close to body
  • Maintain natural curve of the back
  • Keep the screen height at eye level (computer as well as mobile)
  • Screen to be maintained at about arm length away
  • Room lighting -avoid backlight, shadows or reflective glare

Principle #5: Reduce Excessive Repetition

Repeating the same motion with the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists or hands, every few seconds can cause soreness and eventually lead to injuries. Repetitive movements should be limited and objects and furniture should be re-arranged to minimize repetition.

Principle #6: Minimize Fatigue

  • Eliminate static load
  • Minimize general fatigue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Principle #7: Minimize Direct Pressure

  • Minimise posture and positions that include applying direct pressure in order to avoid soft tissue (nerves, muscles, blood vessels) compression. Refer to the enclosed pictures for examples.

 

  

Principle #8: Provide Clearance & Access

  • Ensure adequate workspace
  • Ensure easy access to everything needed
  • Visual access

 

Principle #9: Maintain Comfortable Environment

  • Appropriate illumination
  • Avoid temperature extremes
  • Isolate vibration

Principle #10: Provide Adjustability & Change of Posture

  • Design for adjustability
  • Allow for alternate postures

In addition to the above things, physical activities, workout programs should be encouraged in the offices.

Frequent breaks should be taken to avoid prolonged exposure to the risk factors.

Last but not the least, remember that exercise is medicine. Therefore, keep exercising and stay fit.

 

ReLiva Physiotherapy conducts Ergonomics and Posture programmes for Corporates. If you or your organization is interested in conducting such a workshop or programme for your employees, contact us at contact@reliva.in

 

At ReLiva, we want you to stay pain-free and get back to participating in the activities you enjoy as fast as possible. Get relief. Call +91 992099 1584 to speak to us today so we can connect you with a physiotherapy specialist in your area.

Related Reading:

Ergonomics Programme for Corporate Employees

5 minute Office Stretch exercises: Back, Neck pain

What’s causing your back pain? Is it poor posture

Working long on Computer : Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Ergonomics: Does it matter in your workplace

Neck Pain : Managing at Home

Physiotherapy, a sustainable solution for workplace Health & Wellness

better back posture

What’s causing your back pain? Is it poor posture

If you haven’t had an accident or picked particularly heavy weight before the back pain episode, chances are that it is caused by prolonged poor or bad posture. You could get rid of lower back pain and back injury by following good posture best practices. Understand why and how posture affects your back.

We often hear that good posture is essential for good health. We tend to actually recognize poor posture only when we see it formed as a result of bad habits carried out over years and evident in many adults. But only few people have a real grasp of the importance and necessity of good posture.

What is posture?

Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity. Without posture and the muscles that control it, we would simply fall to the ground. Normally, we do not consciously maintain normal posture. Instead, certain muscles do it for us, and we don’t even have to think about it. While the ligaments help to hold the skeleton together, these postural muscles, when functioning properly, prevent the forces of gravity from pushing us over forward. Postural muscles also maintain our posture and balance during movement.

 

Why is good posture important?

Good posture helps us stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities.

To maintain proper posture, you need to have adequate muscle flexibility and strength, normal joint motion in the spine and other body regions, as well as efficient postural muscles that are balanced on both sides of the spine. In addition, you must recognize your postural habits at home and in the workplace and work to correct them, if necessary.

Consequences of poor posture:

 

Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles and may even cause them to relax, when held in certain positions for long periods of time. For example, you can typically see this in people who bend forward at the waist for a prolonged time in the workplace. Their postural muscles are more prone to injury and back pain. If you fall asleep in a chair and your head is unsupported, when you wake, your neck may feel sore. That is because the muscles and joints have been under strain and they are complaining. The same thing happens if you sit in a poor posture, for example in front of the computer, TV or at the wheel of a car, or walk in a stooped posture.

Several factors contribute to poor posture – most commonly :

  • Stress
  • Obesity (read more about Obesity and back pain)
  • Pregnancy
  • Weak postural muscles
  • Unusually tight muscles, and
  • High-heeled shoes
  • Decreased flexibility / heavy sitting
  • Poor work environment : Incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits also contribute to poor body positioning.

What happens to your body with bad posture?

Forward head posture – For example; while using mobiles. This creates strain on the neck, shortening the muscles in the back of the neck. Neck pain, radiating pain to the shoulders or arms, chronic headaches, and even low back pain can result.

Mid-back slouching –For example; while driving. This can change the shape of your ribs and drive your head forward over time. The result can be pain in the mid-back and problems with your neck. Eventually, compression of your lungs, heart, and digestive system can occur, causing internal problems.

Low back – Low back pain is very common with poor posture. The back muscles have to contract excessively to keep you upright, causing you pain. Bad posture also causes abnormal wear and tear on the low back, increasing the risk of arthritis in the spine.

Hips and legs –For example; while driving, watching television or a movie in a theatre.  With sitting for prolonged periods, the hip joints lose range of motion and the muscles in the front of the hips stiffen. These tightened muscles then pull on the low back, causing low back pain. Read more about Wallet and buttock pain

 

Walking – Your center of gravity changes with bad posture, causing your balance to decline. In addition, weakness to the hip muscles with prolonged sitting causes problems with walking. All these changes can have a serious impact on your mobility and ability to walk safely

Can I correct my poor posture?

YES. Your posture is never so bad that it cannot be corrected.

However, remember that long-standing postural problems will typically take longer to address than short-lived ones, as often the joints have adapted to your long-standing poor posture. Conscious awareness of your own posture and knowing what posture is correct will help you consciously correct yourself. With much practice, the correct posture for standing, sitting, and lying down will gradually replace your old posture. This, in turn, will help you move toward a better and healthier body position.

Your physiotherapist can assist you with proper posture, including recommending exercises to strengthen your core postural muscles. He or she can also assist you with choosing proper postures during your activities, helping reduce your risk of injury.

Posture refers to keeping the bones in the back in their natural curves. Normally the backbones are shaped in an ‘S’ with 3 natural curves. When you have proper posture, you reduce the risk of back pain. This will help you to breathe better and have more energy.

At ReLiva, we want you to stay pain-free and get back to participating in the activities you enjoy as fast as possible. Get relief. Call +91 992099 1584 to speak to us today so we can connect you with a physiotherapy specialist in your area.

 

This article is contributed by Dr. Swapnaja Joshi (PT). Dr Swapnaja is a Masters in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy. She is very popular among her patients for her positive demeanor and effective treatment. She can be found at one of the ReLiva clinics.

Related Reading:

Tips to Improve Workplace Ergonomics

5 minute Office Stretch exercises: Back, Neck pain

Working long on Computer : Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Neck Pain : Managing at Home

Physiotherapy, a sustainable solution for workplace Health & Wellness

back pain and obesity

Obesity and Back Pain

Can reducing weight help in back pain?

Most people know that Obesity contributes to the development of heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer. However, did you know that obesity is a contributing factor to back pain? It’s true!

People who are overweight/obese and suffer from back pain may not be aware that their excess weight is actually contributing to their back pain. The spine is designed to carry the body’s weight and distribute the loads encountered during rest and activity. In order to compensate for extra weight, the spine can become tilted and stressed unevenly. As a result, overtime, the back may lose its proper support and an unnatural curvature of the spine may develop. One region of the spine that is most vulnerable to the effects of obesity is the low back- the lumbar spine.

Is back pain only Age-related?

It is true that with age, body tissues can cause changes to spinal anatomy. However, if you are overweight/ obese, chances are you have or will have back pain. You may have/develop one of the following conditions that can cause back pain.

  • Unhealthy posture: because of uneven load on the spine due to obesity, its curvature alters resulting in Scoliosis, kyphosis and lateral pelvic shifts and causes changes in our posture in order to cope up with our daily activities. Thus, an unhealthy posture can contribute to low back pain or sciatica( low back pain radiating down the leg). Physiotherapists at ReLiva are expert in assessing your posture and advising on the changes you may need.
  • Osteoporosis: A sedentary lifestyle coupled with unbalanced diet can affect the density or strength of the bones and an extra load is taken up by the weak back and core muscles leading to back pain.
  • Low muscular endurance and weakness: ReLiva Physiotherapy could plan an appropriate exercise plan for you to address specific muscular weakness which would help with your chronic back pain.
  • Poor flexibility of the muscles: an extra load on the muscles makes it weak overtime and in order to compensate the muscles become tight and can result in back pain. Tight muscles may even form fibre nodes within/ taut band which is called as trigger points which can also cause back pain or refer pain to different site as well mimicking a nerve pain.

Apart from back pain, obesity can also result in Low cardiac endurance: owing to the inactive lifestyle, an overweight/obese person gets easily fatigue and breathless making it a viscous cycle where the person becomes more inactive and prone to vascular diseases like varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, heart diseases etc and metabolic diseases like diabetes.

Prevention is better than cure!

  • Start walking for at least 30 minutes daily from today itself. Keep checking your weight every month and indulge in healthy diet.
  • Consult a physiotherapist at ReLiva, to assess your muscular strength and flexibility and get started with the core exercise program to strengthen your core muscles.
  • For a balanced healthy diet, you can consult dietitian at ReLiva and maintain or reduce your weight.

Obesity and recovery from low back pain at ReLiva

  • Our Physiotherapist will assess and guide you with the treatment protocol.
  • You can strengthen your core muscles by joining core program at ReLiva.
  • You can improve your flexibility under the therapist guidance.
  • Pain modalities will help you to relieve back pain.
  • You can also consult a dietitian at ReLiva for weight reduction and obesity control.

 

Related Reading:

Back Pain – Causes, Self Care, FAQ and Home Exercise

Working long on Computer : Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Ergonomics: Does it matter in your workplace

Neck Pain : Managing at Home

 

high heels cause pain

High Heels: To Wear or Not to Wear?

There will hardly be a woman who would not love to wear high heels (having put rationale aside) and appear as a long legged, stylish lady! And there are a lot of them who cannot forego the attraction, despite the discomfort that high heeled shoes bring with them!

Here are few facts related to High heel shoes

what do high heels do to our body

High heels are one of the biggest causes of knee pain because they throw your whole body out of alignment. Your feet are forced up at an unnatural angle, so your body is pushed forward and the balls of your feet are supporting all of your weight. This causes your knees to tense up and work harder to keep you upright, while the forward position puts more pressure on the shock-absorbing cartilage under your kneecaps. After a few hours, you will probably feel some discomfort in heels, but the real damage — such as chronic knee and back pain and osteoarthritis — may not be apparent for some time.

Shoes that have no heel at all can also cause knee pain

As a general rule, wearing shoes with heels no higher than three-quarters of an inch will help to maximize knee support. However, shoes that have no heel at all can also cause knee pain by not adequately cushioning your feet as they hit the ground and increasing the amount of shock the joint has to absorb. For this reason, avoid shoes with heels that are lower than half an inch.

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