PT Tip of the Month Archive

Ergonomics

Proper lifting instructionsErgonomics is a discipline that uses scientific principles to improve the safety, efficiency, and quality of your work. Ergonomics is designed to look at the tasks and activities involved in a particular work setting and adapt them to best fit the worker's needs.

Proper modification of the work environment through ergonomics can help reduce or prevent awkward postures, repetitive motions, and excessive exertion that can lead to injury. Along with examining the work environment, a complete ergonomic evaluation will also assess each individuals work and health habits, anthropometrics (height and weight), and physical capabilities. Even though an on-site ergonomic evaluation would be the ideal way to modify your work environment, there are many changes you can make to optimize your safety and efficiency at work.

Minor adjustments to your chair and desk can significantly improve your posture and decrease the amount of pressure placed on your lower back. Without proper support in sitting, the compressive forces placed on the discs in your back are about 1/3 higher than in standing. Changing the seatback angle to approximately 90 degrees or using a lumbar support while sitting can help decrease these forces.

Ergonomic sitting instructions

Here are a few more changes you can make to improve the ergonomics of your workstation:

  • Adjust the height of your chair so that your thighs are parallel to the floor and your feet are rested firmly below your knees
  • Keep your elbows rested at your side (or on the armrests of the chair) so that your forearms are parallel to the floor. Make sure are able to reach the keyboard in this position.
  • Your computer monitor should be approximately 2 feet away from you with the screen tilted backward about 20 degrees to reduce glare and neck strain.

Simple adjustments such as these can help prevent common conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and lower neck and back pain.

If you work in a setting that involves repeated lifting throughout the day, using proper body mechanics is also important for safety and efficiency. When picking up an object from the floor, keep these tips in mind:

  • Squat down and lift the object using your legs rather than bending at the waist
  • Keep your back straight while lifting and carry the object close to your body
  • Lift slowly and make sure your feet are about shoulder width apart
  • Do not twist your back while lifting or carrying heavy items.

Proper lifting demonstration

Proper lifting technique can help prevent common injuries such as low back muscle strains, herniated discs, and vertebral fractures. With winter approaching, keep these lifting techniques in mind while shoveling snow!

Improving ergonomics in your work environment will not only help prevent injury, but is an important part of your rehabilitation as well. At Beantown Physio, one of our licensed physical therapists can advise you on the changes you need to make in your workplace to maintain your health and safety.

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