According to a recent study conducted by researchers in Sydney, the most common type of office injury is severe pain in the back or neck. This might come as a surprise to many who assume that offices are very safe environments. After all, people spend most of their time sitting down, there are few trip hazards in a well-organised workspace, and the furniture is arranged for maximum efficiency.
In fact, this is where the problems lie. Yes, office workers are very sedentary, so they aren’t at major risk of falls, but they do put their necks and spines on the line every day. Spending long periods sat down, staring at a computer monitor, is simply not good for the health. However, there are some clever ways in which pressure on the body can be minimised. It all starts with even, balanced posture and ergonomic accessories like a single or dual monitor arm.
Recognising the Dangers
The biggest threat, particularly when it comes to ergonomic injuries, is for the musculoskeletal system and the spine. This is made up of all the physical bits and pieces that control and regulate movement. For example, your joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles are all a part of this system.
If they are used repetitively, without rest, they can start to become inflamed and worn out. Conditions like bursitis are commonly caused by repetitive habits at work and, if left untreated, they have the potential to become very serious. Carpal tunnel syndrome, for instance, requires surgical intervention if the symptoms are severe enough.
Understanding the Solutions
To avoid workplace injuries and keep the health of your neck and spine in tip top condition, you’ve first got to understand where the danger lies. If you can identify the weaknesses within your office routine, you can start to change them. The next time that you are at your desk, make a conscious effort not to slouch throughout the day. You may find it tricky at first because most of us do it without thinking.
You’ll be surprised at how many times you have to intentionally correct your posture. After a while, though, it will start to become second nature. Then, you’ll realise how much pressure slouching places on the lower back. To aid your sitting posture, you can upgrade to an ergonomic chair with a lumbar cushion. It should allow you to sit straight, with your feet flat on the ground and your eyes level and looking forward.
Investing in the Right Equipment
It is also worth purchasing a sturdy, adjustable computer stand or arm. These devices are very affordable and they lift the monitor to a position that is level with your eyes. This means that you don’t have to crane your neck to view it. You can work in a healthy way, with eyes gazing forward and your neck and spine aligned.
For creative professionals, who regularly use more than one monitor or display, heavy duty stands are the best choice. You can pick up monitor arms which hold one, two, three, and even four screens at one time. With the right adjustments, you can merge all of the displays and have them operating as one giant computer screen. The arm prevents them from wobbling, tilting (when not needed), and catching glare from overhead lights.
Why Small Changes Are the Secret to Preventing Big Injuries
If you are sceptical about how much of an impact a small change in posture can make, just try it out for a week. Adjust your chair so that you are sitting with a minimal curve in your spine and raise the computer monitor until it is level with your gaze. If possible, swap out laptop keyboards for an external accessory and plug in a secondary mouse. These accessories will ensure that you are able to operate the computer and view the screen at the same time, without constantly craning your neck.