How to ergonomically optimise your workspace

A large percentage of the population spend hours on end sitting at a computer or a desk for most of their day. This has many negative effects on our bodies and is often not noticeable in the short term. However, the longer-term consequences can be alarming and have terminally damaging effects on our bodies. To avoid this we need to be wise to the dangers in order to prevent those repetitive strain injury claims building up as we age and start to feel the ill effects of said problem.

Some of the greatest problems associated with poor ergonomics in your workspace are musculoskeletal conditions - also known as MSDs. They effect the nerves, tendons and muscles and can lead to severe problems with a person’s hands, arms and wrists. Repetitive activities can be a problem too and also lead to MSDs. Back problems often stem from sitting in the same position for long periods.

It is your responsibility to provide an ergonomically efficient workspace for yourself. If you’re a business owner with an office full of workers, you need to provide your staff with an ergonomically intelligent workspace. Failing to do this means leaving yourself open to members of your staff potentially pursuing compensation claims for any conditions they might acquire. Studies have shown that creating a sound ergonomic policy will lead to a happier and more productive workforce and help avoid any lengthy and expensive legal battles in the future.

Some causes of disorders can include the following:

  • If computer monitors are positioned too high, the user may tilt their head back; this stresses and fatigues the shoulders and neck muscles.
  • Sometimes when your keyboard is in a too-low position, your wrists are being used at bent and unhealthy angles. This kind of thing feels uncomfortable instantly, but the longer-term effect can be that the finger tendons twist around the wrist bones. Being in uncomfortable positions such as this can lead to irritation or strain of the bone tendon muscle connections.
  • Muscles become inefficient when they are stretched or compressed and can be the cause of over-exertion and muscle fatigue.
  • Postures other than neutral ones tend to stretch nerves, blood vessels and tendons over ligaments or bone, sometimes resulting in them becoming restricted or tightened.

Be sure to properly adjust any workstations in use as this will assist in minimising any awkward or uncomfortable positions or postures. The most ergonomically efficient way to position a monitor, for example, is to place it directly ahead of you at a position where you can look straight ahead at it without the need to tilt your head at all.

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