5 of the Most Common Injuries for Office Workers

common injuries workplace office workers desk

Let’s face it, an office job may not be the most physically demanding career, but it certainly comes with its injuries. While you may think your body is immune and resistant to any injuries, just be warned that your body endures long hours of sitting in one position, staring at computer monitors, or perhaps performing physical manual labor (such as moving a desk chair or lifting reams of paper). With that said, there is a good chance that your body could succumb to the strains of your usual work day. Listed below are 5 of the most common injuries for office workers, and if you suspect that you have experienced any injuries while at work, it is important to have a physiotherapist or doctor assess your health.

The Top 5 Common Workplace Injuries

1. Repetition Injuries

In light of the use of computers and machines at the workplace, one of the most common injuries to hit Australia is repetition injuries. These injuries can happen if you work with heavy machines or even if you use smaller workplace tools such as a pen, keyboard, or mouse. One of the most common of these workplace injuries is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is when inflammation attacks your wrist ligaments and tissue and it causes extreme pain whenever you your wrist moves in a certain way. One of the biggest causes of carpal tunnel syndrome is the frequent and repetitive use of a keyboard or a click mouse that you use on a computer, so it is easy to see why workplace injuries affect a large number of office workers. If you are someone who experiences repetitive motion injuries, the good news is there are things you can do to prevent them. Let’s take a look at a few preventative techniques you can employ at your office.

Stretching

Common stretching techniques can help to dampen the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome. Simple stretching techniques that involve gentle extension and flexion of the wrist can help to prevent some of the inflammation in the joint area. Consider light stretches two or three times throughout the day, holding each for 30 seconds each to gain this benefit.

Strength Training

Some experts believe that strengthening the wrist muscles around the joint space may help to prevent the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome. Simple wrist exercises such as isokinetic hand squeezes with resistance can help to improve the strength in your wrist and forearm muscles. Also, wrist flexion and extension exercises using light weights can help to improve your side effects and possibly prevent the injury from occurring.

2. Fractures

This is one of the most popular injuries in Australia and it can be due to a number of factors. For example, workplace slips and falls are common in Australia (and around the world for that matter) can lead to fractures anywhere on the body. Some areas most commonly fractured due to slips and falls include fractured hips, wrists, spine, and arms (humerus). If you have ever had an accidental slip and fall at work, it is important to have your body assessed for a fracture. In order to prevent fractures from occurring in the future, consider making sure that you have sure footing before making any swift movements, be aware of your surroundings when on a ladder, and consider watching out for spilled liquid on floors.

3. Stress

It may be alarming, but workplace stress (mental) is one of Australia’s most common workplace injuries. While it may not cause physical harm to your bones or musculature, it is responsible for a good portion of absences in the workplace. In the office setting, mental stress can be a cause of overworking without breaks, which can lead to a decrease in your encouragement and performance as well. If you compare the effects of a physical injury to mental stress, the results may be a bit shocking. Mental stress is responsible for about five percent of missed time in the office, making this a major issue among those overworked. In order to decrease mental stress in the office, you can employ a few techniques. Deep breathing techniques lasting a few minutes at a time can be the easiest way to decrease stress in a hurry, especially at your desk. In addition, taking mental breaks away from all office work throughout the day can be a productive way to avoid mental stress at the office. Consider these two methods for starters and let your stress melt away so that you can be productive and healthy.

4. Lower Back Pain

This is possibly the most common office injury that workers get and it is caused from a number of factors as well. For starters, many office workers spend a fair amount of time sitting at a desk when working, which can cause very tight hamstrings. In addition, sitting in an ergonomic position throughout the day is not always feasible and can cause fatigue, which can lead to a slouched or slumped posture. These two factors affect many workers and are two major reasons why you could be experiencing lower back pain at the office. To alleviate this issue, you should consider breaking up your sitting time by installing a walking workstation or by taking a walk around your work campus. Also, consider light stretches for your legs, hamstrings, and lower back muscles to help prevent harmful strains in your lower back muscles. Consider a toe touch stretch two or three times per day and hold this stretch for about 30 seconds.

5. Muscle Strains

If you have a career that involves any sort of lifting then yo5 u are at risk for muscle strains. Career paths that involve manual labor (such as lifting heavy objects like reams of paper, etc.,) are at greatest risk of muscle strains and aches, so if this is you, pay close attention. It is important to use proper body mechanics when you have a need to lift anything at the office, even if it is not very dense. Poor mechanics is one of the most common ways to strain muscles and cause injuries at the office (aside from sitting). Lifting heavy objects should include bending your knees and using as much of your leg muscles as possible. Also, if you are carrying something heavy over a distance, it is important to keep the heavy object close to your body to avoid back strain. Regardless of what is causing your muscular strain, it is important to seek options for the best body mechanics possible for your job.

 

References
[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072780/
[2] https://edway.edu.au/australias-5-most-common-workplace-injuries/
[3] http://www.dynamicbusiness.com.au/small-business-resources/human-resources-blogs/4-most-common-workplace-injuries.html

Protecting your Lower Back as a Construction Worker

construction worker how to protect prevent back injury

Working as a construction worker is quite possibly the most physically demanding career paths you could have. The job description for anyone in the construction industry demands that you be atop of your physical abilities while being capable of returning the next day healthy and ready to work. However, even though many who work in construction are in good physical health, there is a fair amount of turnover in the career.

Why is this?

Construction workers are notorious for having frequent workplace injuries. For starters, there is a fair amount of lifting, bending, twisting, holding a position for a long period of time, as well as climbing. With that said construction workers are at greatest risk of workplace injuries, especially lower back injuries. Lower back injuries are one of the most common types of injuries that affect construction workers and it comes down to a wide range of daily work factors that affect this. Listed below are five ways that construction workers can protect the lower back area to avoid injuries and time away from work.

The Top 5 Ways for Construction Workers to Protect Against Lower Back Pain

1. Learn Proper Mechanics for Lifting Heavy Objects

It is understood that since you work construction, you are a tough person capable of placing quite a bit onto your body. However, it is important for all construction workers to learn proper body mechanics and actually utilize these mechanics throughout the workday, week, and throughout the career. Proper body mechanics involves some education, but mostly it involves simple tasks such as learning how to pick heavy things off the ground and learning how not to move in certain ways. For most, lifting heavy objects should involve bending your knees and lowering your glutes until you reach the object below. Lifting with your legs will save your entire back areas, as bending over at your hips to lift something can place permanent strain in those lower back muscles.

2. Build Muscle Mass to Help your Mechanics

If you want to have more of a preventative measure on your body mechanics, consider performing deadlifts in the gym to simulate this movement. Building muscle mass in your legs and lower back muscles can help you and your performance on the job so use exercise as a way to prevent injuries at work. If you have never performed a deadlift, consider taking it light to begin. Learn your body mechanics and have them down before moving on to heavier weights. For starters, perform 10 repetitions of three sets of deadlifts of lightweight. The ideal form of a deadlift involves a knee bend, slight hip bend, and lifting using your legs. Refer here for great details on the deadlift form.

3. Preventative Stretching

This is not necessarily something that many construction workers do onsite, but stretching the entire body can have boundless rewards for your lower back muscles. Some stretches specifically for your lower back and legs include the following:

  • Toe Touch:
    Start with your feet close together and bend your knees as much as possible so that you can grab ahold of your toes/feet. Slowly lift your glutes and straighten your knees until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings area. Depending on your range of motion in your hamstrings, this exercise can also add benefit to your lower back, since your hips are completely bent in this position. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat for two sets.
  • Knee to Chest:
    This is a good stretch for the glutes and abductor muscles and you start by lying on your back on the floor. Start with your legs and arms on the floor and start this stretch by bringing one knee towards your chest. Use your hands to gain more benefit from this and hold. Perform two sets of 30 seconds and make sure to perform two sets on both legs.
  • Cat Cow:
    This is a stretch/movement that you would do in a yoga class, but it is a great exercise for your spine and lower back muscles. You start by bringing your hands and knees on the floor, with a straight back to start. Gently raise your back/spine towards the ceiling and hold briefly. Slowly lower the spine down towards the floor by trying to touch the stomach to the floor and hold briefly. Perform two sets of 10 repetitions of the cat cow stretch to prevent lower back pain.

4. No Twisting Motions

Perhaps this is one of the most important things for your lower back health and it is vital in the construction industry. Twisting motions, especially with a heavy object, is a fast way to strain the lower back muscles. If you need to perform a motion that involves the twist, consider lifting the object near your body, turning the entire body towards where you are going, and then perform a handoff or delivery. This is a simple way to prevent permanent damage to the lower back muscles and it can pay off in the long run.

5. Wear Protective Gear

Perhaps exercising is a bit much for your daily life and perhaps it takes time to learn new body mechanics, but one thing you can utilize in your daily work routine is a back brace. These braces are similar to what bodybuilders wear in the gym and they help to prevent slight bending in the lower back region on your body (the lumbar region). There are plenty of options to select from, but you should consider a bodybuilder’s back brace for best results. Consider leather options for best support and the bodybuilder braces are not too bulky that they interfere with your uniform.

Ways To Stay Active As An Office Worker

Stay Active Office Workers Health

Do you ever feel like all you do is sit? You sit in the car on your commute. You sit at your desk at work. You sit and watch your kids play sports. You sit and watch TV. Sit, sit, sit. Let’s face it, we do a lot of sitting these days. More than 80 percent of jobs today are desk jobs, a dramatic increase from just fifty years ago.

Did you know that the average office worker sits for about 5 to 6 hours per day? Sitting has a cumulative effect on your health—and it’s not a good effect either! Sitting contributes to obesity, back problems and a whole host of other health issues. Many health care professionals are calling sitting “the new smoking”.

A growing body of research links long periods of sitting with metabolic syndrome and obesity, high blood pressure, excess belly fat, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.

What can you do? Get moving!

Stand Up For Your Health

Many employers are encouraging standing at a desk rather than sitting. Companies are installing standing desks to help. Standing while you work on your computer or talk on the phone has some distinct advantages.

Standing desks adjust up and down so you can alternate from sitting to standing.

These desks are already ergonomically designed for comfort, and some are programmable to allow height adjustment. Just be sure you make all the proper adjustments to your workstation when you’re standing. Your desk needs to be at the correct height, and you need to be at least 20 inches away (about an arm’s length) from your monitor. Make sure you have proper posture, too—your head, neck, body and legs need to be in line with each other. Be sure to wear supportive shoes and shift your weight from one foot to the other foot as you stand.

Why Standing Trumps Sitting

Calories

People burn far fewer calories sitting all day. Couple that with lots of snacks at your desk, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Obesity has already reached global epidemic proportions, and sitting all day is a definite contributing factor. Did you know that standing instead of sitting burns 170 more calories? That adds up to 1000 extra burned calories per week, so it is definitely worth it.

Diabetes

Obesity and diabetes are inextricably linked. If you eat a big breakfast right before you rush out of your door, or eat a big lunch and then return to your desk and just sit, your blood sugar levels spike. Standing versus sitting after a meal can really decrease that spike. When your body regulates blood sugar more evenly, you are less likely to develop diabetes.

Heart Health

Our bodies were made for standing, not sitting. Your heart pumps your blood more efficiently in an upright position, so you’ll have much better heart health if you decrease your sitting time.

Back Pain

When you sit for long periods of time, your muscles become stiff and your back aches. Your spine is much more suited to a standing position, so when you stand, you’re much more likely to keep everything in alignment compared to sitting. When you sit, your shoulders pull forward and create added stress on your neck (cervical region). As your head tilts forward every inch, an extra 10 pounds of pressure on your neck vertebrae. No wonder your neck is sore at the end of the day.

Now that you know the detriments to sitting, here are some easy ways you can keep it moving at the office.

Get Comfy

Something as simple as wearing comfortable shoes and clothes means you’ll move more.—numerous studies like this one that tracked workers’ sitting patterns after moving to an activity-based office, have shown it.

Moving Meetings

Like with other important things in your life, you have to schedule time in for them. The same goes for taking breaks to move. Schedule them. Some people set a phone alarm, and there are several apps you can use too. If you need to make a phone call, consider making that call while walking around the block instead of staying at your desk. Need to chat with a colleague? Go for a walk together, or instead of sending an email, walk down to their office. Some people even hold standing meetings—no sitting allowed.

Track Your Movement

People always improve when they can see results, so track your steps throughout the day and your calories burned. There are smartphone apps and fitness watches that can help you accomplish this.

Stretch

If you’ve ever been to a baseball game, you know about the seventh inning stretch. Incorporate the same concept into your office day. Set a timer if you must. There are some great 15 minute exercises you can do to get the blood flowing. Just Google or look on YouTube.

Walk to Work

Not everyone can pull this one off, but if you live close enough, consider walking or biking to work. If you drive, pick a parking place really far away to force yourself to get some walking in.

Spread The Joy

We’re used to having everything within arm’s reach on our desks. Instead, spread things out. Move your phone across the room. This will force you to get up and move throughout the day. This is a minor consideration, and may not be practical for your office setup, but if you can, implement this tip. It may not seem like much, but any movement will help.

Take Care When Standing

If you do decide to stand for the majority of the day, implement some helpful tips. You may want to buy a cushioned mat to stand on to help absorb some of the force. You also may not want to stand in high heels all day. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes. If you develop leg pain or that pins and needles feeling, try to elevate one foot and see if that helps. Also try to move more while you are standing—shake out your limbs to become more limber, and do shoulder rolls or other stretches to pump the blood flow in your legs. Take a quick jaunt down the hall to the water fountain just to move a bit.

Keep Moving

The current body of research says our default position should definitely not be a sitting one. Instead, fund ways to stand, walk and move throughout your day. Make it part of your normal routine. If you’re thinking you can sit all day, then do a strenuous workout to make up for it, think again. It doesn’t work that way. Sometimes it is difficult to change your routine, but start small and build upon it. You’ll reflect back at how much accomplishment you’ve made, and pretty soon, these new healthy actions will be habits. Your body will thank you.

 

Why Your Business Should Take Mental Health Seriously

Mental Health Workplace Resilience Stress Management

Until recently, mental health in the workplace hasn’t been given attention to. The social stigma linked to any mental health disorder was more than sufficient enough for anyone to warrant unreported cases in the workplace. Nonetheless, mental health issues and concerns are, in fact, extremely prevalent.

What is Mental Health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes a positive mental health as “a state of well-being in which an individual can cope up with the normal stresses of life, realize his or her own potential, and work effectively or fruitfully, as well as be able to contribute to the community.”

The organization also mentioned, “Employees with a positive mental health can perform better at the workplace.”

Mental Health At The Workplace

It is not uncommon for a mental health concern, as simple as stress, in the workplace to be treated with suspicion or a certain degree of cynicism. An unhelpful and negative climate persists due to close-mindedness and ignorance that surrounds the topic of mental illness. Most of us have felt this concept but still find them challenging to explain and understand.

According to a National Health Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 7.3 million of Australians between the ages of 16-85 years will have a mental health condition at some point in their lives. That accounts for almost half of the population at 45%. These numbers represent the working population, who may or may not have jobs. With this percentage, it is not possible to escape the reality that mental health problems can, and probably will, emerge in almost any workplace in Australia.

Mental Health Impact

An estimate of $10.9 billion healthcare costs each year is attributable to untreated mental health illnesses. Half of this healthcare cost covers $6.1 billion for presenteeism, $4.7 billion for absenteeism, and approximately $146 million for workers compensation claims. Such costs reflect how expensive mental health concerns are to employers, and to the society at large.

Financial impacts aside, the true influence of ignored and mismanaged mental health issues can also be viewed in terms of increased accidents at work, decreased productivity, poor performance, increasing absenteeism and presenteeism at the workplace.

Absenteeism is simply defined as a pattern of not attending a scheduled work. Recent statistics show that one out of five Australian employees report that they had taken the time off from work due to anxiety, stress, depression, or other mental health concerns.

Obviously, an employee not showing up has costs for everyone. The employee loses an income, co-workers may have additional stress from the heavier workload, and employers also have to deal with the replacement of employees and decrease of productivity.

Albeit sometimes hidden, absenteeism may have significant costs that many business employers would just want to avoid. And because of that, most of the policies, regulations, and practices at the workplace are designed to curtail absenteeism. A situation that could, in fact, encourages attendance of employees while being sick.

Presenteeism, a growing subject of interest, on the other hand, is generally defined as attending work while feeling ill. Unlike absenteeism, employees continue to come to work and still can result to lower productivity and poor performance level.

Although the real effects of presenteeism are difficult to quantify as opposed to absenteeism, symptoms can easily be observed by monitoring impaired productivity. In today’s work environment, employees who are ill may continue to work and hide their illnesses due to fear, but they can’t hide the fact that there is something wrong.

From an employee’s viewpoint, presenteeism is crucial for it might intensify existing medical ailments, worsen the condition, harm the quality of their performance at work, and lead to negative connotations at work, which may be branded as “incompetence”. Furthermore, with an unaddressed or undeclared mental illness, it is more problematic and complicated because presenteeism can also cause workplace accidents.

Productivity and Performance

There is no doubt that a mentally healthy working environment can boost good performance and productivity. A positive psychosocial climate can help promote camaraderie and teamwork, increase employees’ morale, and stimulate proper communication between individuals at the workplace. Staff turnover can be lower as a result, and so are the accompanying expenses of training, and recruitment.

Chronic and physical disorders

There are many studies that can prove that “there is no health without mental health”. Correlational analyses show pieces of evidence that stress or poor mental health can lead to a wide variety of chronic and physical disorders. These include diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. These conditions are major workplace issues that just verify that mental health and wellbeing is important to any business.

Mental health promotion

Absenteeism and presenteeism are just some of the reasons why businesses should make mental health promotion a priority. Mental health and well being of employees is a significant health determinant. In today’s global economy, the business paradigm for mental health is compelling as it is an essential driver for success in the world of business.

By taking a step towards mental health awareness to your work environment and offering support to your employees, you can reduce workplace problems and prevent loss of productivity.

Good practice: Workplace activities for mental health promotion

There are a lot of interventions that can promote mental health to develop resilience to stress and overall well-being amongst employees. Long-term effects can be achieved primarily with early intervention. These include health promotion strategies, prevention techniques, and a combination of various teaching programs in coordination with individuals that are responsible and trained for specific business level and requirements.

The costs of poor mental health are significant and the causes are multifaceted and are quite complex. Good employers need to consider not just the physical health of employees, but also mental health problems. The working environment is a significant factor in overall health and is fundamental to the solution.

If we examine it thoroughly and try to understand the business case and the potential costs associated with mental health concerns, the need to tackle this subject is vital and the potential benefits are remarkable.

References:

  • Harnois, Gaston and Phyllis Gabriel. “Mental health and work: Impact, issues and good practices.” WHO | World Health Organization. Web. 14 Nov 2017. <http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/712.pdf>.
  • Knifton, Lee, Verona Watson, Rob Gründemann, Anja Dijkman, Heleen Den Besten and Kristin Ten Have. “A guide for employers. To promote mental health in the workplace.” ENWHP European Network For Workplace Health Promotion.TNO, Mar 2011. Web. 14 Nov 2017. <http://www.enwhp.org/fileadmin/downloads/8th_Initiative/MentalHealth_Broschuere_Arbeitgeber.pdf>.
  • Jay, T., & Hersen, M. Handbook of Mental Health in the Workplace. SAGE Publications.
  • Johns, Gary. “Presenteeism in the workplace: A review and research agenda.” Journal of Organizational Behavior. (2009): DOI: 10.1002/job.630 Web.<http://www.mas.org.uk/uploads/artlib/presenteeism-in-the-workplace-review-and-research-agenda-johns-2010.pdf>.
  • Johns, Gary. “Absenteeism or Presenteeism? Attendance Dynamics and Employee Well‐Being.” The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Well Being. : Oxford University Press, 2008-11-13. Oxford Handbooks Online. 2009-09-02. Date Accessed 15 Nov. 2017 <http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199211913.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199211913-e-002>.
  • Heads Up Org Australia. “State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia.” HeadsUpOrg.Au. Web. 14 Nov 2017. <http://www.headsup.org.au/docs/default-source/resources/bl1270-report—tns-the-state-of-mental-health-in-australian-workplaces-hr.pdf?sfvrsn=8>.
  • PwC. “Creating a mentally healthy workplace: return on investment analysis”. Web. 14 Nov 2017. <http://www.headsup.org.au/docs/default-source/resources/beyondblue_workplaceroi_finalreport_may-2014.pdf>
  • “National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007.” Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Government. Web. 14 Nov 2017. <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4326.0Main%20Features32007>.
  • “NSW Business Chamber – NSW Business Chamber – Maximising your business potential.” The most powerful investment you can make in productivity. Web. 15 Nov 2017. <http://www.nswbusinesschamber.com.au/Media-Centre/Resources/The-most-powerful-investment-you-can-make-in-produ>.

Why Ergonomics Really Matters

ergonomics importance injury prevention at work

In 2014 to 2015, 90% of Australian workers filed serious claims due to musculoskeletal disorders, repetitive strain injuries, and other work-related injuries. Of the total claims, almost 45% was due to traumatic joint-ligament or muscle/tendon injuries.

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) and Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) are complex and are commonly linked to the increasing incapacity rates of Australian workers that result in total absence from work and poor performance.

What causes Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) or Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)?

Businesses nowadays increasingly require higher production rates and advances in technology to remain competitive. As a result, jobs today can involve:

  • Working at a quicker pace of work requiring faster assembly or packaging line speeds
  • Frequent lifting, pushing or pulling, and carrying heavy loads
  • Use of screen-based equipment causing eye strain
  • Long periods of working in one position
  • Specialization that requires employees to perform only one function

These tasks, if not done with appropriate measures, can increase the risk of illnesses or work-related conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders, vision-related problems, and repetitive strain injuries.

The Following are the Risk Factors for Developing Work-Related Injuries
 

·      Awkward or prolonged posture

·      Repetitive activities

·      Overhead work

·      Vibration

·      Contact stress or compression

·      Extreme temperatures

·      Heavy lifting/ carrying

·      Gripping

·      Push or pull

·       Forceful movements or quick motions

 

 

What parts of the body are most commonly affected by MSDs or RSIs?

MSDs and RSIs can affect almost all tissues and cells in the human body such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. These body parts are important for mobility and communication of cells. The most frequently affected sites are the back and the arms.

Risk Factors Symptoms Body Parts Affected People At Risk
Bending, lifting heavy objects Low back pain Back Healthcare aides, nursing assistants, delivery persons, construction workers
Working with hands above the head Shoulder pain, stiffness Shoulder Power press operators, painters, welders, assembly line workers
Repetitive and forceful arm and finger movements Tingling and numbness on arms or fingers, pain on the wrists, loss of strength, decreased sensation Fingers, wrists VDT operators, meat and poultry workers, upholsterers, assemblers, garment workers, cashiers, operators, data encoders
Exposure to vibration Numbness and tingling in hands, loss of sensation and control

 

Hands, fingers, wrists Chainsaw operators, construction workers, pneumatic hammer operators, and gasoline-powered tool workers
Twisting and gripping Pain at the base of the thumbs Thumbs Housekeepers, butchers, seamstresses

 

Work-Related Injuries and Ergonomics

Studies show that by applying the principles of ergonomics, work-related injuries can be prevented.

Ergonomics Defined

The International Ergonomics Association (IEA) defines the word ‘ergonomics’ as the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among humans and other elements of a system; the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. In a succinct perspective, ergonomics aims to design technical systems, appliances, and work environment in such a way to improve human health, comfort, safety, and performance.

Health

The diverse aspects of work environment have positive and negative effects on all areas of an individual and company’s well being. All working environments at the extreme will affect people’s health to different levels. These effects can cause increased errors or accidents, uncontrolled stress, injuries, diseases, and chronic pain. Other health issues that may be related to poor ergonomics include:

  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Stiff neck
  • Shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Joint pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

 

Diseases of musculoskeletal and psychological illnesses due to stress contribute as the most important triggers of occupational disability and absenteeism or presenteeism. These conditions can be partly ascribed to poor construction of equipment, task, technical systems, and work environment. With ergonomics, companies can have more sustainable workforce with fewer MSD rates and work related illnesses.

Safety

Occurrences such as accidents and disasters at work are often attributed to human error. However, research shows that the real cause of these occurrences is the relationship between the worker and their task or work environment.

Comfort

At an individual level, ergonomics can also serve to the competitive advantage of a company by providing user-friendly work environment. For example, implementing ergonomic improvements such as appropriate height of working tables and appropriate tools can reduce the risk factors that might lead to discomforts. Fewer discomforts, on the other hand, can lead to healthy and pain-free workers who are more likely to be engaged at work and be more productive.

 

Ergonomic Principles
Uncomfortable Better Solutions
 

No neck support or padding under the body

 

 

With neck support and shoulders support

 

 

Seat too small and provides minimal support

 

 

 

 

 

Seat with lumbar support and higher back seat

 

 

 

Bent awkward posture

 

 

 

Relaxed posture with less strain on the back

 

 

 

Performance

Another major influence of the work environment is upon productivity or performances. This can occur indirectly through discomforts, or health problems, and dissatisfaction at work. Examples are productivity losses associated with jobs that are not designed properly or are not constructed in accordance with ergonomic principles. Several work tasks or situations contribute to worker fatigue, strain, or stress and therefore, may result in decreased work performance.

 

Financial Benefits of Ergonomics

A comprehensive program on ergonomics can help save funds and resources for any kind of business. Good ergonomics, is good economics, because it will prevent:

Direct Costs associated with Work-Related Injuries

Good Ergonomics is Good Economics

  • Medical treatment
  • Insurance premiums
  • Prescriptions
  • Physical therapy

Indirect Costs

  • Replacement worker costs
  • Legal and investigation expenses
  • Overtime payment from staff coverage during absence of injured employee
  • Training costs for workers with poor performance
  • Recruiting and advertising costs if the employee resigns due to injury
  • Orientation of new employees

 

Keys to Success – Workplace Ergonomics

In the design of everyday work situations, the employees have always been the focus of ergonomics. With its principles and disciplines, the nature of the work can be well fit to the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker to the potentially hazardous working condition.

A work environment free of ergonomic hazards can accomplish:

  • Lower incidence of work-related injuries
  • Higher productivity rates by creating a comfortable environment for workers
  • Decreased absenteeism and presenteeism rates
  • Improved product quality
  • Reduced turnover as new employees are more likely to stay on ergonomically designed job within their comfort and ability
  • Decreased compensation rates
  • Improved worker safety
  • Reduced worker stress and fatigue
  • Improved worker comfort

 

References:

  • “Ergonomics: The Study of Work.” Home | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. S. Department of Labour Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Web. <http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3125.pdf>.
  • “Disease and injury statistics | Safe Work Australia.” Home | Safe Work Australia. Safe Work Australia, Web. <http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/disease-and-injuries/disease-and-injury-statistics>.
  • “Ergonomics in the Workplace.” Charles Darwin University.Office of Human Resource Services/Health Safety and Environment, Web. <http://www.cdu.edu.au/ohrs/contacts-information/documents/ErgonomicsintheWorkplace.pdf>.
  • “Why Ergonomics In The Workplace Matters | HealthScoop.” Reliable Body Care Products Store | HealthScoop.  <http://www.myhealthscoop.com/the-scoop/ergonomics-workplace-matters/>.
  • “Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics.” Home | Safe Work Australia. Safe Work Australia, Web. <http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1710/australian-workers-compensation-statistics-2015-16.pdf>.
  • “The Advantages of Ergonomics.” State of Oregon: Oregon OSHA – Home. orosha.org , Web. <http://osha.oregon.gov/OSHAPubs/ergo/ergoadvantages.pdf>

 

10 Stretches you Can Do at your Desk

stretch office workers australia ergonomics at desk

Adults spend a large amount of time throughout the day and week at the office. From difficult projects, to long hours sitting in front of the computer, your body is exposed to a wide range of factors that can really add strain to any part of your body. Office workers are exposed to injuries on a daily basis and it often is due to long hours of sitting, the lack of exercise, and strained muscles.

Muscle strains in the office range from the lower back area (most common), to the shoulders, and even the wrist muscles. While muscle strains are common in the office, there are a number of stretches you can do at your desk at work to prevent injuries at the office. Listed below are 10 common stretches that you can easily do at your desk and in the area of your office space.

10 Common Desk Stretches to Try at Work

1. Lower Back Stretch.

This stretch involves the use of your desk chair. For starters, sit in your desk chair and make sure that your feet can touch the floor below you. To perform an effective lower back stretch using your desk chair, you will want to slowly walk your hands forwards and reach for your toes, or to the tips of your shoes. You should be in a full hip bend position at this point and it should be stretching your lower back muscles. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds and then slowly walk your hands up towards your hips. Repeat this stretch two or three times throughout the day and consider this stretch after that long meeting you spent sitting. Read more

Helpful Ways to Manage Conflict at Work

Conflict and Mediation at Work

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. Humans are social creatures, but we each have different personalities and preferences about how we wish to be interacted with. When you put a group of people together in a building for 8 hours each day, there are bound to be disagreements. That being the case, what is vital is knowing how to effectively deal with these issues when they arise.

First, let’s look at some unhelpful ways of approaching conflict:

  • Ignoring the problem. This is rarely a useful strategy. Even if it seems helpful for a time, it’s inevitably temporary.
  • Arguing and/or blaming the other party. This is the most common way that people attempt deal with conflict, but rarely does it actually help. Blaming usually creates a defensive reaction and a cycle of negativity.
  • Taking leave. Sometimes employees take additional sick leave to underscore their dissatisfaction. This tends to just pour fuel on the fire and exacerbate conflict.
  • Undermining the other person. This might be anything from unfair gossip to actively sabotaging a project.
  • Escalating the conflict (without discussing with the other person). Sometimes people feel the need to ‘go above’ the other person. This is another avoidance strategy and can put further strain on the relationship.

The above may seem obvious, but this kind of behaviour is ubiquitous in workplaces around the world. So, now let’s walk through some more helpful strategies for dealing with conflict at work:

  • Take personal responsibility. It is almost never the case that one party is entirely at fault. Consider how your actions may have contributed to the problem. Perhaps you could have been more pro-active, supportive, considerate or respectful? Do you communicate clearly? So frequently, disagreements result from a breakdown in clear communication.
  • Meet for an open discussion. Set up a meeting with the other person and try to resolve the issue together. Always acknowledge your own potential faults and give the other person space to put forwards their concerns.
  • Consider involving a third party as a mediator. When a relationship is strained, an objective outsider may be able to see both sides of the disagreement. Try to find someone experienced in mediation – this could be a senior manager, a HR executive, a trusted peer, or an external consultant.
  • Create a plan. Set out a plan to ensure that old tensions don’t return. What will each party do to prevent future problems? For example, one strategy is to communicate verbally, rather than via email. This can give clarity to conversations and limit the risk of misunderstandings. Regular face-to-face meetings can also be useful, even if they are very brief.

Resilience at Work: Why it Matters

Resilience at Work

Resilience is usually defined as the capacity to go through difficult times and adjust to new situations. Nowadays, in the work environment, substantial changes seem to happen more often, as job tasks are reorganised and displaced. In dealing with these changes, some people manage to adjust more easily than others. There is a great difference between the workers who, faced with change, react with anger and reluctance, and those who display genuine interest, treating changes as opportunities.

Employers all around the world face two challenges when it comes to resilience: The first one is to determine which people exhibit “resilient” traits, while the second one is to enhance the resilience of the current employees. Resilience characteristics such as Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Adversity Quotient (AQ) are on their way to being as important as conventional skills and intelligence quotient (IQ).

Resilience can be the seen as a trait that’s the complete opposite of vulnerability. People characterized as “resilient” can better withstand the mental anguish that occurs in stressful circumstances because they have a positive attitude and keep being focused, organised, and dedicated. Virtually all of the today’s companies go through a lot of fast paced changes, affecting all tasks that need to be done by employees. This has sparked a search for a new kind of employee, one that can quickly adjust to new situations, work well in teams and improve and expand his or her skill set constantly. The ability to motivate oneself, as well as to learn and manage new skills, is fundamental to the modern work environment. After all, the ever-changing jobs demand a continuous learning process.

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Manual Handling: The Basics

manual handling safety at work

Manual Handling is an expression that gained popularity in 1992 when the Manual Handling Operations Regulations were introduced and it refers to “any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force”.

In other words, this means that any action that requires a person to push, lift or carry an object without any tools or devices is considered manual handling.

The Dangers of Manual Handling

Manual handling accidents happen more often than you think. As a matter of fact, more than 30% of the injuries reported are related to manual handling, and roughly 10% of critical ones are associated with it. This has a massive influence on workspaces, the damage adding up to hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

For instance, about 1.1 million people have declared that they’re affected by musculoskeletal disorders that have been caused or aggravated by their daily job. Furthermore, approximately 12.3 million work days are lost every year as a result of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

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Increasing Resilience in the Work Environment

resilience work health

People who can gracefully manage stressful situations – and the pressure of modern day jobs – have one key trait in common, that of being resilient.

The common understanding of resilience is that of the ability to successfully face the burdens and strains of day-to-day life. Other definitions lean on different concepts such as toughness, strength, flexibility, etc. In truth, the best and most concise summary is that resilience is the capacity to ‘bounce back.’

When it comes to work, resilient people are able to handle their workload better, even when faced with unplanned situations, such as shorter deadlines, new assignments, or urgent, pressing matters that must take priority over everything else.

Importantly, resilience is not a trait bestowed only on a chosen few. The fundamental aspect of resilience is that it’s not a passive characteristic, but an active one, deeply influenced by our past experiences and relationships. Most importantly, resilience can be learned.

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