- Most of us sit too much. The average person sits more than 8 hours per day. Many office workers sit as much as 15 hours per day. Think about all the sitting in your typical day; sit at breakfast, sit on your way to work, sit at work, sit on your way home from work, sit for dinner, and then sit to watch TV or surf the internet.
- Sitting puts your metabolism to sleep. 60 to 90 minutes of inactivity (like sitting) is enough to shut down the enzymes responsible for producing HDL- the good cholesterol, and for regulating blood sugar. Chronic inactivity is now thought to contribute to our diabetes epidemic.
- Sitting is harder on your back than standing. Sitting tenses the hamstrings and causes a flattening of normal curve in the low back. This distortion of the spine increases the internal strain of the back. Sitting upright or sitting in a forward bent position is particularly hard on the back. (see the Trunk and Back Pain link above for more on this subject)
- Sitting with an open hip angle of greater than 90Â° reduces back tension. Sitting in a reclined posture, thighs-declined, or even slouched back against the back cushion can reduce tension in the spine. This reduces the hamstring tension and shifts some of the upper body weight onto the back cushion.
- Sitting provides more stability and control for detailed work as opposed to many types of stand up work. Sitting is easier on the Muscular-skeletal system (except as noted above in number 3).
- An hour of daily exercise won't counteract the negative health effects of sitting. Running, biking and other types of exercise are great for improving fitness, but they don't counteract the negative health effects of prolonged sitting. Exercisers who sit most of the day are known as active couch potatoes.
- You need to stand and move each hour or more to maintain health. Sitting puts your metabolism to sleep. Movement like standing, walking, and other leg-muscle activity stimulates your metabolism and restarts your body.
- Adjust your chair for comfort, support, and movement. You chair should fit you and your physique, and it should allow for a variety of postures and movement. Adjust the back rest cushion up/ down to fit the curve of your low back, adjust the seat height for a comfortable leg support, and set the backrest to allow supported relining and movement back and forth. While seated you should fidget, squirm, contract/relax your muscles, and flex/extend your legs. Remember movement is good, sitting still for long periods is bad.
- Your best posture is your next posture. There is no single best ergonomic posture. Most experts recommend a variety of positions and postures including these four reference postures; upright supported, reclined seated, thighs declined, standing.
- Don't sit continually take regular interval an stand and walk little .
OFFICE ERGONOMICS :
Keys to Sustainable Safety and Ergonomics
A disheartening reality for many
safety and ergonomics professionals is that many of their initiatives
ultimately become the victims of their own success. Once they accomplish the
organization’s initial objectives, investments in ergonomics and other safety
solutions either evaporate or are reallocated elsewhere.
While these outcomes may be frustrating, they often stem from tactical approaches focused on incremental improvements. Indeed, many such initiatives are designed to satisfy federal or state requirements (such as OSHA) or to reduce injuries driving workers’ compensation costs. The problem: Once immediate problems are addressed, the programs aren’t maintained or expanded.
On the other hand, organizations
with long-term success in ergonomics view it in terms of a continuous
improvement process: risk factors drive the process and a proactive approach to
manage risk yields long-term benefits in employee health, safety, enhanced
internal and external productivity, and human performance.
Progress can be tracked and quantified using proven manufacturing metrics, such as improved quality (human error reduction), reduced cycle times and overall cost reduction (including labor and employee medical costs).
Here are five keys to make ergonomics initiatives sustainable and critical elements of an organization’s drive for operational excellence.
1. Present Ergonomics in a Strategic Context
Even as many organizations embrace
operational excellence, lean manufacturing or Six Sigma to drive systematic and
continuous improvement across the enterprise, ergonomics isn’t necessarily
integrated with these initiatives. Nonetheless, ergonomics can be a difference
maker: It eliminates waste and operational variances through effective
workstation design; it facilitates measurement through the establishment of
leading performance metrics, and it enhances productivity by reducing employee
risks of developing work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
The tactical aspects of injury prevention involve identifying risk factors, such as awkward postures, high-force applications and high frequency/exposures, as well as their root causes, and designing and implementing solutions to reduce them.
Yet, to achieve sustainability, ergonomics initiatives must focus not only on the design and implementation of approaches for injury prevention or reduction, but on the wider organizational strategic goal of improving human performance across the organization.
Accordingly, in discussing ergonomics initiatives and results, environmental health and safety professionals should seek to position them in the larger context of the operational efficiency and excellence.
2. Establish a Sound Organizational Framework for Ergonomics
Ideally, any and all ergonomics
initiatives should be fully integrated with an organization’s strategic
imperatives, such as operational excellence and Six Sigma. That begins with
leadership’s commitment and ownership of the ergonomics process, and involves
the engagement and participation of employees at all levels of the
From the outset, make sure leadership understands and embraces the overall direction of the ergonomics initiative and how it supports the organization’s broader strategic goals. They should recognize the issues you are trying to address, and understand the goals and anticipated short- and long-term benefits of the ergonomics process.
Another key element involves establishing organization-wide accountability. Develop and define site-specific ergonomic roles and responsibilities for individuals throughout the organization, including: operations management; finance; risk management; operational supervisors and employees; office technical and administrative staff; manufacturing engineering and design; human resources; safety team members; ergonomics process owner and subject matter experts (SME); and consultants.
For each function and location, develop a clear picture of the current risk level (by job task and by body part). That will help you establish a baseline for ergonomics risk (for instance, percentage of jobs with high-risk body parts). Identify who owns each ergonomics issue (whether it’s a matter of safe and efficient work practices not being followed or a workstation engineering/design issue), and who is in charge of correcting the problem.
Collaborate with relevant managers and employees to define site-specific goals for team development, pre- and post-injury reduction, and/or productivity improvements. This should also include the establishment and implementation of methodologies to obtain feedback, monitor progress and measure results.
3. Don’t Overlook the Need to Address Operational Pain Points
An enterprise-wise ergonomics risk
and opportunity assessment may unveil specific issues that require immediate
intervention and remediation. These include jobs with a history of causing
injuries, such as those driving workers’ compensation costs. In some cases,
immediate actions may be necessary, including:
The development of a return-to-work process.
Creation of basic risk identification tools for supervisors to assess employee work habits and provide job coaching on proper work practices. Notably, engaging supervisors and employees in these measures supports continuous improvement and does not require significant time to implement.
Development of a proactive employee early-symptom intervention process that allows employees to engage onsite specialists who can work with them on biomechanics coaching, work practice adjustments, movement strategies and treatments.
Establishment of site-specific
teams of subject matter experts (SMEs) to lead a more extensive improvement process to assess risks, provide feedback on workstation design and layout issues, and participate in implementing potential solutions to address ergonomic issues in a facility.
Notably, a site-specific team might include: environmental health and safety professionals, loss prevention, maintenance, manufacturing leads, manufacturing engineering or industrial engineering, and human resources (if necessary due to contractual issues).
While the initial goal of these activities may be to equip the site to make immediate improvements, they can serve to build momentum for incrementally larger implementations that will directly impact workers’ compensation costs and lost-time days.
4. Use an Interactive Process to Identify Emerging Needs and Validate Priorities
Effective ergonomics initiatives
rely on constant employee feedback and are highly responsive to individuals who
report issues related to safety, discomfort, or pain. Because the focus of
these activities is on intervening when an employee is having an issue, the
solution may not drive immediate cost savings directly related to workers’
compensation claims or lost time. However, significant cost avoidance may
result by preventing a claim or employee injury that leads to lost work due to
a medical restriction.
In addition to working toward a more proactive process, safety and ergonomics professionals should engage the general engineering groups with respect to the design, specifications and building of new workstations, cells and facilities.
The collective goal of this ongoing interaction is to provide human performance design and risk identification tools that allow designers to assess the current design and find areas of improvement that may have been overlooked.
5. Strive for Continuous ImprovementThe ongoing ergonomics process should involve a proactive risk-based approach to identify and address jobs with potential high risks for developing future work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
Prioritize and communicate areas of high-risk versus low-risk work tasks. In this case, a “heat map” may be useful in facilitating a common understanding of tasks that are high-risk, the body parts and the root causes within those tasks contributing to the overall risk.
The ergonomics risk heat map allows the ergonomics professional to proactively manage risks and set a common direction for the types of improvements (short, medium or long-term) required to reduce or eliminate known risk factors.
All solutions should be tested for potential impact in reducing work-related musculoskeletal disorder risk factors. Improvements should also be defined not just for impacting risk factors, but for potential reduction in overall cycle times, improved quality and space savings as a result of redesign.
As part of the final process, successful solutions should be communicated to other parts of the organization. This can accelerate the overall improvement process by reducing the lead time to implement solutions.
If you work in an office, chances are good that you sit for a large part of the day. This puts you at risk for ergonomics-related problems.
“No matter how well a workstation is designed … working at a computer often involves very few changes in body position,” “This lack of movement can lead to muscle pain and strain.”
You can help prevent the adverse health effects of sitting by starting a stretching routine. Their are number of stretches you can do at your workstation:
Hands and arms:
- Start with your hand open, and then make a fist – keeping your thumb straight. Then, slide your fingertips up your palm so that the tips of your fingers are near the base of your fingers. You should feel a stretch.
- Place your hands down and open. Gently bend your wrist from side to side as far as you can. Hold this stretch for about five seconds. Repeat it three times.
- Stretch out your arm and hand, and slowly rotate your wrist until you feel a stretching sensation. Hold for three to five seconds. Then, rotate your palm up until you feel a stretch. Repeat this sequence three times.
- Place your elbows on your desk with your palms together and slowly lower your wrists for about seven seconds before relaxing. Repeat this stretch three times.
Neck and shoulders:
- Bring the top of your shoulders toward your ears until you feel some tension. Hold this pose for three to five seconds before relaxing into your normal sitting position. Repeat this stretch two or three times.
- While sitting or standing – without lifting your chin – glide your head straight back. (If you feel like you’re giving yourself a “double chin,” you’re doing this stretch correctly.) Hold for 20 counts and repeat five to 10 times.
- Slowly drop your head to the left, trying to touch your left ear to your shoulder. Hold and then repeat on the right side.
- Placing your hands behind your head, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Back and legs:
- Lace your fingers together and lift your arms over your head, making sure to keep your elbows straight. Then, press your arms as far back as you can and slowly lean to the left and then to the right.
- Hold your right arm with your left hand just above your elbow, and then gently push your elbow toward your left shoulder. Hold this for five seconds and repeat with your left arm.
- Hold one foot off the floor with your leg straight. Point your toes up and then down. Repeat with your other leg.
- Sit forward in your chair and place your feet flat on the floor. With a straight leg, lift one foot a few inches off the floor. Hold for a moment and return your foot to the floor.
1. Workstation adjustments:
Sitting: chair adjustments are made so work can be performed with good postural alignment. Neutral posture when seated, is: ( Refer Image 1)
- Feet are resting comfortably on the floor or on a footrest
- Thighs are fully supported by chair seat
- Hip angle is 90 to 110 degrees with knees slightly lower than hips
- Chair backrest supports the natural curve of the back
- Elbows rest comfortably at one’s side
- Wrists are straight/flat
- Head is centered over the neck and shoulders
- Feet are resting comfortably on the floor.
- Knees unlocked
- Elbows rest comfortably at one’s side
- Wrists are straight/flat
- Head is centered over the neck and shoulders
3. “Cradling” the telephone handset between one’s shoulder and ear should be avoided. Consider using a headset or speaker option.
4. Monitor(s) and document holder should be positioned to allow neutral posture of one’s head and neck.
- Top of monitor(s) is/are at brow height or lower if bifocals are used
- Center monitor in front of keyboard.
- Document holder is in-line with or adjacent to monitor
( Image 1)
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Whether sitting or standing, working in one position for prolonged periods can cause fatigue and sore muscles. Some tasks require these positions, but there are still some things you can do to minimize related problems.
Hazards to watch for:
- Sitting in a chair or at a workstation that is the wrong size for you.
- Working in an awkward position, like being bent forward for long periods of time.
- Leaning on sharp edges of chairs and desks.
- Standing on uneven surfaces such as: one foot on an ergo mat and one foot on the floor.
- Inappropriate or deficient lighting sources.
When working at a seated station:
- Make sure the chair and workstation are the right size for you. Look for 90 degree angles at the knees, hips, and elbows when seated and that your feet are flat on the floor.
- Change your position in the chair from time to time.
- Do not lean forward in your chair, even if it feels comfortable. This makes your back and neck muscles work harder and can lead to fatigue and stains.
- Take short rest breaks, such as walking around for a few minutes every 40-50 minutes.
When working at a standing station:
- Avoid extreme bending and twisting.
- Change your position frequently. Shift weight from one leg to the other every several minutes.
- Keep arms in as close to your body as possible.
- Place one foot a little higher — on a bar, box, or shelf. This can relieve stress to your back. If you don’t have this in your work area, talk to your supervisor about making this kind of adjustment.
- Use insoles in your shoes to add cushion. These are available at most pharmacies at reasonable price. Replace insoles every 6 months to a year.
- Take a few minutes to walk around every hour.
- Use an anti-fatigue mat to stand on. Mats should have beveled edges and sit flat on the floor.
If your job requires sitting or standing for the entire shift, you may feel fatigue and sore muscles. The key to avoiding discomfort is to change your position frequently in order to minimize stress on specific body parts. Consider taking brief, frequent breaks that include stretching or walking throughout the day.
Now, let’s take a minute to discuss different ways you’ve made working in a static position easier, and what we can do to make other improvements.
- Use a phone with the right set of features. If you frequently place calls, consider using a cordless phone or one with the number pad on the receiver rather than the base. This will help you avoid having to extend your reach to dial. However, if you often make calls to voice mail and other automated systems, using a phone with desktop numeric pad will be more convenient (since you'll need to listen and press keys simultaneously).
- Learn proper phone position. Learn how to hold your phone in a proper position against your ear: head straight and shoulders relaxed (not hunched). Your shoulder and head can be bent slightly to one side to cradle the phone, though preferably not for prolonged periods of time (as this can cause muscle aches in the upper back and neck). If you tend to use the phone for long duration, consider alternating ears and supporting the hand on a regular basis. If your calls tend to be shorter, consider alternating ears and hands each every other call.
- Consider using a headset. This allows hands-free phone conversations and eliminates the risk of any discomfort or injury associated with improper phone use. It is superior to a speakerphone because it will work well in a noisy environment or with confidential conversations. If you use the phone frequently all day long, a headset is your best option. If you do use a headset with a single earpiece, consider alternating ears to eliminate any discomfort that may be caused by continuous pressure on your ear.
- Consider using a speakerphone. This allows hands-free phone conversations, eliminating the risk of any discomfort or injury associated with improper phone use. Speakerphones do have practical limitations: they generally won't work well in a noisy environment or for confidential conversations, and can sometimes reduce the sound quality of the conversation.
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- Adjust the Chair Height Start with your seat at the highest setting and then adjust downward until your legs and feet feel comfortable, and the back of your knees is at an open angle (90Ì or slightly greater, and not compressed).
- Sit Back in the Chair Adjust the height and/or depth of the lumbar support to provide comfortable lower back support.
- Adjust the ReclineIf the chair has a recline lock, set this at a comfortable position. Remember to unlock this periodically; this will allow the backrest to move with your back as you change posture. It's generally better to be slightly reclined, as this helps relieve tension from your lower back. If the chair allows you to, adjust the recline tension as you move back and forth so that the chair provides consistent support.
- Adjust the Seat PanWhen sitting back, make any adjustments to the seat pan (e.g., seat pan tilt) to reach a comfortable position. The seat pan should extend about an inch on both sides of your legs, and should not apply pressure to the back of your knees.
- Adjust the Armrest If possible, adjust the height, width, and position of your armrests to one most comfortable for how you work. Keep in mind that armrests will be used only between typing sessions, not while typing or using your mouse. Consider lowering or swinging the armrests out of the way when not in use so as to not inhibit your movement.
- Clear Obstacles Make sure that the chair's casters (wheels) move smoothly, and that nothing obstructs your ability to position the chair in front of your desk and computer.
- If you don't have an adjustable chair, you may need to think creatively to obtain an ideal sitting posture.
- If you sit low (i.e. there's a downward slope from your knees toward your body), consider sitting on a soft, evenly-filled cushion to provide the added height necessary.
- If you sit too high (i.e. there's an upward slope from your knees to your body), consider using a footrest to bring your thighs to a level parallel with the ground. If you don't have a footrest, use a firm and level alternative, such as a phone book.
- If your seat pan is too deep (which creates pressure on the back of your knees), consider putting a back pillow between you and your backrest to push your body forward and into a better position.
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