Are you sitting comfortably? Judging by the statistics it’s more than likely you aren’t. Around 9.3 million sick days were called in thanks to back pain and related afflictions in 2008/09 alone. But fear not, if you believe your work really is making you ill follow these simple tips on maintaining good health and safety in the workplace.
Combat RSI. Repetitive strain injury can occur in just about any workplace, from manual work to something as innocent as the everyday handling of a phone hand set. Any job that involves repetitive actions can lead to the pain, tenderness, stiffness and overall feeling of weakness that comes hand in hand with RSI. The most common muscles affected by RSI tend to be in the arms, back and neck, but simple steps like swapping the average mousepad for a wrist support or replacing a handset with a neck-friendly headset can all ease the tension.
Keep Posture Perfect. For those working behind a VDU sitting long hours in the same position comes with the territory, but often the way we are sat at work can start take its toll on our health. It’s so easy to start off upright and gradually slip into a slouched position as tiredness creeps in, and this can put a strain on not only the muscles, but the spinal structure itself.
When sitting at desk make sure the greater part of your back is resting against the chair and your back and shoulders as straight as possible. If you get regular neck or headaches, or can’t rest your feet firmly on the floor, it’s worth asking your employer for a risk assessment of your work station.
Take Breaks. If most of your work involves standing or sitting in the same position for long periods of time it’s important to take regular breaks to move around. Wherever possible take time out to stretch out your muscles. Taking the odd minute here and there may not seem like much, but it can help to ease the strain on the neck, back and leg muscles. Moving around is also a great way to boost the circulation, preventing the risk of deep vein thrombosis and tension headaches.
Deal with Heavy Lifting. Lifting incorrectly is a fast-track route to back and neck injuries at work. Often the only advice given is to lift from the legs, but by keeping your body straight, holding the bulk close to your body, making sure you head stays raised and, most importantly, know when you need an extra hand.
It’s ultimately the responsibility of your employer to make sure the workplace meets the safety regulations of the government body Health and Safety Executive, so if there’s any part of your workstation you feel isn’t up to the standards for any reason, it pays to suggest it to your employer.
This post was provided by Jim Farlow – a boardroom and reception office furniture designer from the UK.