Ergonomic morals of work life
The AUB Wellness Program hosted an ergonomics workshop, facilitated by the physical therapy department of the AUB Medical Center from the 17th to 22nd of January, which provided enriching general tips on how to avoid back and neck pain and how to improve your posture while going about your daily chores.
Governments spend 10 billion dollars on average every year on injuries within the workplace since it has been found that healthier workers tend to be more attentive and productive in the workplace and that benefits the economy overall. Ergonomics defines a set of postures which minimize the forces acting on the body, however a serious challenge to conventional ergonomics thinking is that in order to put these recommendations into practice, one must be aware of their joint and muscle functioning to willingly change their posture. Having said this, we would have to derive new ways of observing our bodies in order to benefit from ergonomics research.
Physical ergonomics in particular is an important field, especially pertaining to those who suffer from ailments such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome which are joint-related diseases in which minimizing unnecessary pressure is crucial. Within the field of physical ergonomics we have several sub disciplines, one of which is the well-renowned workplace ergonomics, concerned with the well-being of employees in the workplace. Here we find that taking a proactive approach when applying ergonomics to the workplace, saves manufacturing industries billions of dollars worth of workers compensation, simply done by modifying equipment or environmental designs. In the more prevalent office ergonomics, the concern is more centered around seating and lighting conditions.
Here we discover the importance of sitting with most of your body weight being transferred to the seat in order to avoid unwanted back pain. The key here is to exert as little pressure as possible on your lower back in order to avoid disc pressure, which is why adopting a seat with lumbar support and a backrest inclination of 120 degree is recommended. The issue with this is that workers may feel compelled to lean forward in order to complete their tasks which would defeat the purpose, so to minimize this problem, the alternative kneeling chair has been proposed.
In addition to this, glare and ventilation are important factors to control in the office; glare being a common nuisance causing eyestrain and which can be traced back to monitors, windows and overhead lights. Finally poorly designed ventilation systems that directly “dump” air on employees can cause immense discomfort, leading to stiffness and dry eyes, particularly for contact lens wearers. During warm seasons, recommended indoor temperatures should be between 20 and 23.5◦C whereas during colder seasons a 23-26◦C range should be maintained.
Mucoskeletal disorders and cumulative trauma disorders are common among those who maintain a poor posture; the former condition ranging from general aches and burning sensations to more serious long term damage which limits movement of the shoulder, neck or back and the latter being the result of repeated injuries through misappropriate use of a body part. The ergonomic moral to remember here is it is not so much about reducing pressure as it is about putting pressure in the right places.