Injuries to the lower back, neck and shoulder from lifting and moving material are among the most frequent and serious injuries in the workplace.
Using proper ergonomics is one way to reduce these injuries. Ergonomics is the study of how daily tasks are performed and correcting anything that can cause pain from awkward postures, repetitive motion and poor lifting techniques. Whether you have a desk job or work in a warehouse, you can be at risk of feeling pain due to your posture and daily activities.
Ergonomics for a Job with Movement & Lifting
Start your day by stretching your back by sitting in a chair and leaning forward as far as possible then stretch your hamstrings, and rotate your shoulders and neck through the entire range of motion.
When lifting and moving material, there are a few things to concentrate on;
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart for good balance.
- Bend your knees to pick up low items, do not bend at the waist.
- Hold the object as close to your body as you can.
- Pivot your feet when you need to place something to the side; do not twist your back.
- Use mechanical devices whenever possible and when you use carts, dollies, hand trucks, etc.….push them, do not pull.
- Store items off the floor so it takes less effort to retrieve them.
- Try to avoid lifting heavy items above shoulder height.
Some industries that employees should use these Ergonomic tips include; Wholesale, Retail, Restaurants, Home Healthcare, Social Services, Hotels & Motels, Oil & Fuel Dealers, Assisted Living Facilities & Nursing Homes.
For more information about the benefits of employee stretching, read Workplace Stretching: The Employee Benefits
Ergonomics for a Desk Job
Start your day by stretching your hands, wrists and neck through their entire range of motion to loosen your muscles and get blood flowing to the area.
A few tips to keep in mind when working at a workstation;
- The monitor should be placed directly in front of the employee, not off to the side. Additionally, the top of the monitor should be at roughly forehead height to keep the screen at eye level or slightly lower.
- Shoulders should be relaxed with upper arms hanging normally at your side.
- Elbows should be bent between 90 and 120 degrees
- Torso should be vertical or slightly reclined with lumbar support.
- Thighs should be roughly parallel to the floor.
- Knees should be at the same height at the hips with feet below or slightly forward of the knees. Feet should also be flat on the floor or resting on a footstool.
Working from home? Use the tips in Working From Home: Best Safety Practices.
Regardless of your daily tasks, throughout the day you should take a break and/or vary your routine to give your muscles and joints a rest. If you’ve been sitting for a while, stand up or vice versa. If you’ve been working on something detailed with your hands, walk away for a minute to stretch them out. A little variation in those routine tasks can help prevent muscle aches and pains from harming you in the future.
For assistance on any employee safety topic please contact Ray Sullivan at 914-694-6000 x 236.