When was the last time you took a close look at your workspace? Take a moment to really think about it – how does your environment affect you or your employees’ occupational health? Your desk and workspace might look quite unassuming but if it is not set up correctly there are hidden hazards that can cause repetitive strain injury. In serious cases they can stop you doing your job so why not take five minutes of your time to make one or two minor adjustments that will help prevent injury to yourself.
In the Office
Lurking in the office are a number of hidden dangers, from equipment that does not support wrists and backs to cramped spaces. Take time to look at your workspace carefully for the hidden dangers that can cause repetitive strain injury and chronic back problems.
- Get your wrists in neutral – When you type using the keyboard are your wrists positioned neutrally? Make sure they’re not be twisted or bent outward. Failure to correct this can result in carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain related disorders. You can talk to an occupational physiotherapist to find out ways to help your prevent that. A simple way you can start doing so is by using an ergonomic keyboard or a special rest for your wrists as you type. It’s also best if your keyboard rests at the same height as your elbows to help keep your wrists in a neutral position.
- Avoid stiff keys – You just need to press gently on the keyboard and the keys should spring back up. Having stiff keys wears out finger muscles and causes repetitive strain type problems. If you find you have to stretch across the keyboard when you are typing then think about a more compact board to avoid more strain on the wrists. Keyboards should also be able to tilt and the keys labelled clearly to avoid unnecessary straining.
- Slow down the mouse – Your mouse can lead to repetitive strain injury problems through not being positioned near the keyboard and being awkward to use. Making sure it is clean and slowing it down via the control panel will reduce the work on your wrists. Chill out your mouse by finding the control panel and setting it to slow mode on the pointer options. Setting up shortcuts is another way of reducing mouse work through fewer clicks.
- Don’t forget your back – There is a lot of focus on the hands in repetitive strain injury and your back can get forgotten. Ensure your chair supports your lower back and that your workspace is organised to avoid stretching. The chair should support the curves of your spine and your arms should be at 90 degrees when typing.
- Improve your sitting posture – there are a handful of risks related to DSE (Display Screen Equipment) if you work for prolonged periods of time inputting or retrieving information. This can be avoided with some proper training of how to sit correctly and avoid injury. Get to know your spine and how it works. Doing so will help you understand how to better position yourself while at work and live healthier each day.
In the Warehouse or the Factory Floor
The factory floor has several hidden dangers from vibrating machinery to awkward loads. Even standing for long periods or working in a confined space can result in problems so check out the dangers in your workspace today.
- Know your machinery and use it properly – If you work on the factory floor or handle machinery that vibrates such as a drill then you should ensure you take regular breaks and make minimal use of vibrating equipment. Ensure you have received training in how to handle the machinery correctly and use grips where possible. Use ear defenders to cut down noise.
- The most loyal of workers can be affected – Finally, as a message for employers as well as employees, repetitive strain injury often affects the most loyal and dependable workers. Typically these problems affect the hardest working employees. Just one or two changes can result in a happier and far more productive workforce. No one wants to lose their star employee from repetitive strain, so make those changes today.
- Manual handling training – If you’re handling heavy lifting or frequently repetitive motions (which is common in manufacturing or production lines) it’s important to be educated on how to properly use lifting and handling techniques. Seeking the help from both your employer and occupational health professional, you can avoid injuries in these places.
Whether you work in the office or in are busy in the warehouse, it’s important to mind your posture and your safeguard against any injuries. We hope you try to incorporate some of these easy preventative tips within your normal workday.
Pictures always help, right? Check out this diagram to see if you’re sitting correctly at your desk!
[DISCLAIMER: Contents of this article are for general information purposes and is not meant to replace physiotherapy or medical consultation.]
How did you improve your desk space from a hidden danger today? How can you cut down potential injuries in your warehouse or factory?