What is Ergonomics?
You may have heard the word ergonomic thrown around at the office from time to time, but what exactly is ergonomics? Ergonomics is the discipline concerned with designing according to the needs of a person. To define ergonomic products, they’re custom made products that are intended to be a comfortable and easy to use product, which avoids repetitive strain injury. Not only is ergonomics a specific item to help with comfort, it can also be used for correcting posture. Using certain computer items, such as a mouse or keyboard can add continuous strain to an individual. This repetitive strain could lead to serious injuries, which could result in paralysis of the hand, arthritis, chronic aching, and loss of ability to use the hand. This could also lead to permanent nerve damage, tendon damage, and other problems with the ligaments, joints, spine, and cartilage. A poorly designed workstation and practices can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, also known as MSD. Examples of MSD would be carpal tunnel syndrome and rotator cuff syndrome. MSD doesn’t always come from bad posture on the computer; it could also come from other things such as constantly being on your knees (carpet layers knee), and any other things, which may include repetitive motions and awkward posture.
MSD usually show signs in the hands, wrists, elbows, arms, shoulders, neck, and back. Some of the warning signs are usually having a hard time making a fist, weakness in specific body part, lack of coordination in specific body parts, pain and soreness, cold hands, and swelling.
Ergonomic products may help the individual who are showing signs of MSD, but other things to be aware of is posture. If it’s the individual persons back that hurts, be sure to check posture. Is this person slouching, or leaning too far back into their chair while typing? There are many things that we do in our daily routine that goes undetected until it is pointed out to them or figuring it out for themselves. Make a mental note to be aware of everything you do in the day. How do you use the mouse for your computer? When you type, how is your posture? Do you slouch when you type? Are your hands bent at an awkward position? All of these things you need to be aware of. Once a person is aware, they then need to know what they’re doing wrong and how to nip the problem in the bud with ergonomic posture.
There are many items to help with the problem. Things such as an ergonomic computer mouse, ergonomic keyboard, ergonomic task chair, ergonomic desks, and other various ergonomic tools.
In 2003, there were over 800,000 cases of work related strains due to improper office supplies and/or improper posture. In recent years, there have been fewer cases due to the rising awareness of this crippling condition. These sorts of injuries make up for a third of workers compensation claims. According to health and safety evaluations, Repetitive Stress Injuries affect 1.8 million workers a year.
Some common things to look out for when it comes to excessive use of a computer in your daily routine is take a look at the keyboard height. Is it too high? Too low? How about the mouse? Is it at the right length? Once you figure out the problem, then the solution could be a simple as getting a keyboard tray and maybe getting an ergonomic keyboard.
As for the mouse, it could be as easy as moving the mouse closer to you, or putting the mouse on the keyboard tray, or getting an ergonomic mouse. If you happen to have large hands, there is a possibility that your mouse may be too small for you hands. There is a customized mouse that fits individuals with large hands.
Also if you’re having problems with your neck, be sure to check the height of your monitor. Is your monitor too low? Is it too high? Your monitor should be at eye level and your neck should not be bent in anyway. This leads to your neck suffering from fatigue, which could result in permanent damage.
Awareness is the first key in preventing these sorts of work related injuries.
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