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Why Are Workplace Ergonomics So Important

woman with neck pain working at a deskIf you have pain that has developed on the job, or are trying to prevent pain, you may have heard about ergonomics. Workplace ergonomics has been a focus of the U.S. Department of Labor for years, and companies are encouraged to optimize ergonomics as a result. But what are workplace ergonomics, and why are they so important?

As a chiropractor in Chesapeake for more than two decades, I have extensive experience counselling my patients about the importance of ergonomics. Workplace ergonomics can play a key role in helping to treat and prevent pain and injuries.

What Is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the practice of fitting a job and a workspace to a person’s body, instead of the other way around. Many jobs and workspaces put stress on a worker’s body. By focusing on ergonomics, bodily stress can be lessened, which lowers the risk of injury and pain.

Ergonomics can take a couple of different forms. It can involve training an employer and a worker about how to perform tasks, such as the proper way to lift heavy objects or maintaining good posture. Ergonomics can also involve physical changes to the workspace, such as special chairs.

What Are Examples of Ergonomics At a Desk Job?

Proper ergonomics in the office can help you avoid neck, back, and wrist pain. Typical ergonomic changes include:

  • Choosing the right chair: Picking a chair that supports your spinal curves is important for spinal alignment and to prevent injury. The chair’s height should allow your feet to rest flat on the floor with your thighs parallel to the ground.
  • Keeping frequently used objects nearby: To avoid repetitive motions and excessive reaching which can cause strain, frequently used objects like phones or staplers should be within reach.
  • Minimizing wrist strain on the computer: When typing on your keyboard or using your mouse, your wrists should be straight with your hands at or a little below the level of your elbows. In addition, your upper arms should be close to your body.
  • Reducing neck strain from the phone: If you often use the phone at work, consider a headset to avoid cradling your phone between your head and shoulder, which can strain your neck.
  • Reducing eye and neck strain while looking at your computer monitor: If you work on a computer, your monitor should be right in front of you, approximately an arm’s length away. The top of the monitor should be at eye level, or a little below.

What Are Risk Factors for Workplace Injuries?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified many different risk factors for worker injuries, some of which may benefit from ergonomic changes. They include if the worker is:

  • Using excessive force when performing the job: Some examples include lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects, manually pouring materials, or having problems keeping control of equipment.
  • Performing repetitive motions: Repetitive movements, either when done continuously, or over a long period of time, can increase the risk of injury.
  • Keeping an awkward posture or not moving for long periods of time: Maintaining postures that put stress on the body can contribute to injury. These include reaching above shoulder height, kneeling, squatting, leaning, using a device with the wrists bent, or twisting the torso when lifting objects.
  • Putting pressure on a body part: Putting excessive force on a body part can lead to injury. This includes pressing against an object.
  • Working in cold temperatures: Chilled environments can increase the risk of injury, especially if other risk factors are present.
  • Being exposed to vibrations: Vibration from power tools can cause a variety of negative health effects in the hands and arms. These include damaging small blood vessels and nerves, and causing a worker to use even more bodily force than before to try to carry out their job.
  • Having multiple risk factors: The presence of more than one risk factor may put a person at higher risk of an injury than just having one risk factor.

What if I Get Injured Despite Improvements to Workplace Ergonomics?

Workplace injuries and bodily strain can occur even if you and your workplace attempt to make ergonomic improvements. In this case, early treatment can be key to preventing your injury from progressing and helping you heal faster. Your doctor can make recommendations about further ergonomic changes that may help you at work.

Optimizing Ergonomics With Precision Spinal Care

As a certified NUCCA chiropractor and spine management physician, I work closely with you to find the root cause of your condition and develop a treatment plan around it. If poor workplace ergonomics are causing your condition, I can give you suggestions on how to improve your workspace.

To accomplish this, during your first visit, I will do a thorough examination. Afterward, I will go over my evaluation with you in detail. Together, we will set reasonable expectations and milestones for recovery and further evaluation. We will also put together a treatment plan that meets your care needs. I will reevaluate you to make sure you are meeting your goals.

My experience and expertise in spinal biomechanics allow me to competently and safely address your back issues. I am a trauma and hospital-qualified spine management physician. I have credentials in MRI spine interpretation, spinal biomechanical engineering, and orthopedic testing through the Academy of Chiropractic. I am also a fellow in Spinal Biomechanics and Trauma which is recognized through the SUNY Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine.

If we determine that chiropractic is not the best solution for your needs, I will recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate for you. I may also recommend other specialists that can be used in conjunction with chiropractic care to help you meet your needs.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you are trying to treat your pain. At Precision Spinal Care, we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs and discuss all the options with you and your family.

Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment online here.

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