‘Different’ Employees require an Ergonomic workspace

businessman-wheelchairThe workforce for many companies has become extremely diversified over the last few years. What started as ‘telecommuting’ taught employers that not physically having a worker at their station from 9 to 5 (with an hour off for lunch.), isn’t so much of a bad thing. In most cases productivity is up, and those empty work-stations can be filled by contract, or other short-term workers, fulfilling tasks for specific projects, or other assignments. This is a great reason to look at ‘different’ employees that can also help local Non-Profit organizations.

Veteran Work-force

Who would have thought that – in these enlightened times – there would still be Armed Forces veterans desperate for work? These incredible personalities have been drilled in an array of marketable skills that may be able to help your company: Either on a short term, or more permanent basis. In fact there are many Governmental financial aids that help businesses employ Service Veterans. Don’t automatically think of strictly older men, there are hundreds of young, intelligent, committed veterans that are looking not only for work, but a career, now that they have paid an incredibly high price for their Service to the rest of us: Sad to say that it looks like this work-force will only grow in the near future, too. Check with your own Department of Labour, or Human resources or more details on how you can help them, as well as your company.

Many are trapped within a broken body, even though you can count on a perceptive and exciting outlook from these Heroes, who are usually going to waste in a business atmosphere that doesn’t value their intelligence:

Down syndrome Work-force

Many people feel uncomfortable facing a person suffering from Down syndrome. Once an employer gets past this natural aversion, however, it is obvious that these sufferers are not mentally ill, but rather are a positive to most work-forces: Incredibly focused, with an almost Savant-like attention to detail, and a creative streak that defies the usual formulaic workplace rubric, Downs syndrome workers are- for the most part – desperate to escape a lonely life, and show their talents to the utmost. US Pharmacy giant Walgreens has enjoyed the benefits of recognizing these special abilities. Its South Carolina distribution Centre is over 20% more efficient than any of its others – and almost 50% of the full-time workers there have a physical or cognitive disability, including Down’s syndrome.

These two examples are the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to people within your city that are a wasted resource, based usually on the fact that the rest of us are unsure of how to communicate with them. Do some research on your community to find out where people’s needs and your requirements intersect, and find some ‘out-of-the-box’ answers to your problems, and theirs.

Of course, you may have to re-configure work stations: Wider entrances and exits, for instance, or ergonomic work areas and equipment that may be required to ease everyone’s working days and conditions, but these are small investment for a more committed, and talented work-force. Start with computer keyboards, seats, and wider doors to ensure that everyone in your office is as comfortable and productive as possible, and expand your work-force. The initial outlay will be more than worth it.

The ‘Eyes’ have it – eye strain at work.

eyestrainHow many of us have to wear reading glasses while working at our Computer? Actually, there are millions of us that are slowly harming their vision by staring at a bright screen for hours on end. There are steps you can take to alleviate ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’ (CVS), and while they won’t allow you to ditch the spectacles, they will – if instituted early enough – allow you enjoy a much more pleasurable time at your computer keyboard.

CVS is actually part of the family of Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) that plague most computer users, and can be lessened with a complete Ergonomic make-over of your work station. Computer Vision Syndrome is a result of your eyes must staying focused on text and images at a static distance from you. In a more natural setting, our eyes would constantly adjust to focus on objects both near and far away, tracking them as either you or the object moved. It is how our eyes have evolved over the millennia as part of our Hunter/Gatherer history. The movements necessary while working are completely different than our ‘inherited, natural’ skills, and the result can be uncomfortable and lead to problems like astigmatism or nearsightedness.

Think also of how you are holding your head while working. If your overall position at your keyboard is slumped, or twisted in any way, your head may be sitting at an ‘offset’ position that is putting strain on your neck. After all, the average Human Head has a weight of 10 Pounds. Next time you have the chance to pick up a 10 pound bowling ball, or large bags of sugar or flour, feel how much that actually weighs. You neck supports your head for your entire life, but what position is it sitting at? Your brain is very good at memorizing positions for your body as a whole to interact with the world, but if you are sending a message that this is the way that you sit every single day, it won’t change your position to a better one – it will simply give you pain messages until you change it – don’t ignore those neck strains, or headaches. They are big signs that your head is at the wrong position.

Although it is tough to offer a written solution to these posture problems, if you start at the other end of your body, it will help your overall posture. Sit straight up, support your back, and ensure that your feet are flat on the floor. Look straight ahead, and ensure that your head sits on your neck squarely, looking ahead. If you can change your chair, or desk, position to achieve this, then do so. Try not to place a book or another ‘prop’ under your keyboard – that should be flat and straight, just under your fingers when your elbows are hinged at a 45 degree angle from your sides.

When sitting in this position, reach your arm out straight, and try to lightly brush the screen with your index finger. If you can place your palm on the screen, or your arm doesn’t reach, alter the depth of that distance until it’s correct. You can safely tip your eye-line down between 15 and 20 degrees to focus on the screen, but don’t move your head down to match this.

Of course, you also want to ensure that the lighting around your work station is ample to give you enough light to match the very strong white light that your computer screen emits, and you want to rest on an ongoing basis to relax and exercise your entire body – perhaps for thirty minutes every three hours. You should also be looking for a comfortable and ergonomic keyboard to ensure that you are working in a stress-free and comfortable way.

Remember that Repetitive Stress Injuries mean more than arm and shoulder pain and injury, so get into the habit of working in a comfortable position – especially where your head and eyes are concerned.

Is your Keyboard making you Sick?

dirty-keyboard 2Generally, office environments can be the cleanest area of any business. After all, any kind of pollution found in the air of factories, delivery yards, and car parks would – you would think – be stopped at the door. However, new research from Health and Safety experts shows that office environments have their own health risks, and your computer keyboard could be to blame.

Illness-causing bacteria easily live on commonly touched work surfaces such as keyboards, computer mice and office phones, and the average shared desk is a prime breeding ground for infection. In fact an average keyboard can have 200 times more bacteria than a toilet brush!

The Reality of the Shared Office.

In today’s business world, open-space offices are more likely to be shared. Part-time staff often make up a high percentage of most offices, and they all share their desk environment. You could say that everyone in a working environment is sharing each other’s home and travel environment, complete with all of the bacteria and illness that total strangers are sharing.

Many workers that spend different times of day in the administrative work-space also bring food with them, and many more forego a lunch-break to eat at their desk, making keyboards a breeding ground for bacteria.  While washing your hands between ‘the outside world’ and the closed office area would no doubt help – and has become automatic for many workers – this doesn’t protect against droplets of saliva that inevitably fall on the keyboard during talking, sneezing, and coughing.

A recent study analysed swabs obtained from the keyboards of 30 computers and found microbes on all keyboards, examples of mould, yeast, bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Micrococcus and Enterococcus. In fact, past studies have found more than 3,000 organisms per square inch on a keyboard, and more than 1,600 on a computer mouse.

When did you last Clean Up?

You can still protect yourself in a shared environment very easily, so try to perform the following tasks on an ongoing basis – we can attest to the fact that they work:

When you first start work, clean and disinfect your desk area, including phone, calculators, and especially your keyboard. You can use swabs or Q-Tips to do this. In fact, bring some cleaning materials with you as a ‘gift’ to the whole office.

Use Compressed Air to blow out any crumbs and germs that are hiding throughout the keyboard – in fact, give all grilles, ports and spaces a blast too, it will help your computer run better.

Turn your keyboard upside down, and lightly shake it to dislodge even more debris.

When you enter the office, or return from a break, wash your hands to protect yourself from others’ dirt that has been rubbed against you, and never eat at your desk.

You can also give everything a quick rub down and clean when you take extended time from the office: A few days, or vacation, to make it clean for others.

Perhaps the easiest way to ensure a clean area is to purchase a keyboard cover to cover the board when it isn’t being used by you. This can help protect against passer-by’s sneezes, coughs, and coffee spills. Many high-end keyboards come with their own dust covers, and they aren’t provided to help during initial delivery – they are for everyday use.

Finally, if you move around a lot, consider buying your own keyboard with a USB connection that can be used on any computer. Not only will this guarantee that you are only using your own equipment, it gives you the opportunity to buy one that fits your own typing style, and ergonomic requirements to make your working time more comfortable. This way you can ensure that your working time is not only clean it’s also comfortable, less stressful and more productive.

Is it Time to ‘Switch’ your Keyboard?

Truly_Ergonomic_Mechanical_Keyboard-227The more that you investigate about keyboards, in order to find the ‘perfect one for you’, the more detailed info ration you will find. Pretty early on in this process, it will become obvious to you that a keyboard’s keys, and the mechanisms below them, tucked out of site of the users, are the most important components that you will need to learn more about. The real job is learning about the switches below those keys.

The Finger points

After all, these are the points that your body actually touches any keyboard. Your fingers are the conduits that your brain signals communicate through. It doesn’t matter if you write blog posts, specialist technical journals, or simple e-mails. If you are at all uncomfortable, it is your fingers that will feel it first. Any kind of pain or discomfort you feel at the contact point will soon grow into nerve pain through your palms, wrists, arms and back.

Whether or not you are investigating moving beyond the ‘off the rack’ keyboard that comes with your working or home computer, or interested on what different products are on the market, eventually you will look at the different kind of physical keys that there are on the market, and you will be faced with a decision: Do I buy Rubber-Domed or Mechanical switches?

The Rubber-Domed Switch

The vast majority of keyboards on the market today feature a Rubber or Silicon dome that sits directly under the key that you see, and connect to the ‘works’ that lie under the keyboard, and connect between action and the letter appearing in screen.

The visible part of the key is called the Key Cap. These are relatively expensive items that must deliver a long life. However, it is the switch below it that receives all of the trauma and shock of being pressed – or hit! – Repeatedly over the life of the product. A much more cost effective method is to protect this switch with a simple rubber dome that sits under the Key Cap, and suffers the repeated shock of action time and time again.

The differences in the shape and thickness of the domes that the mass producer of your keyboard uses determines the travel distance, resistance, and tactile feedback of the switch.

Being Mechanical

Mechanical key-switches are more elaborate and made in a better quality than other key-switch types.  In this system, each key has its own independent key-switch mechanism that will register when a key is pressed.

In most cases the key is actuated (the keystroke is generated, and sent to the computer) halfway through the key travel distance. For example, the key may be capable of traveling 3 mm before hitting the bottom of the key-well, but the keystroke is generated after 1.5 mm.

As there is no requirement to travel the full key travel distance when being operated,  typists enjoy the luxury of not pressing keys fully down, reducing the constant jarring action on fingertips when ‘bottoming out’ and associated unnecessary muscle action. Additionally, the constant use if these types of keys offer increasing resistance after the keystroke is generated, encouraging the user to stop pressing down the keycap and instead move on to the next keystroke. Finally, keycaps snap back to the starting position (i.e. up) more quickly than other key-switch types, facilitating faster typing speeds.

Of course, Mechanical key-switch keyboards are more expensive when initially bought, but their working life is much longer. Together with the lowered risk of injury caused by repetitive stress injury, you may want to investigate a keyboard with mechanical switches for a more pleasant working experience.

Thanks to Truly Ergonomic Ltd. for the use of a picture of their ergonomic, mechanical keyboard

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Are you a Sufferer?

webmd_rf_photo_of_nerve_compression

For millions of people, working, playing and communicating on a computer keyboard is a daily reality. With this work comes a specific set of possibly painful symptoms – especially if you aren’t working in an comfortable position. Many times we hear of someone that is “suffering from Carpal Tunnel.”, and it is understood that this was because of ‘too much typing’, but how do you know if those wrist and hand aches and pains are due to this well-known complaint, and what can you do to ease the pain or stop getting it at all?

What is Carpal Tunnel syndrome?

The human hands and wrists have many nerves, joints, and muscles that allow them to turn and work in different positions. How do we know when we are performing actions that can cause something as serious as this?

What sets CTS apart from other, less serious, complaints is stress or damage to the Median Nerve. This runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, and becomes pressed at the wrist. The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and, and controls impulses to some of the small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move. The Carpal Tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand, which houses the median nerve and tendons. It is stiff to offer support to the nerve and, when a sufferer’s median nerve swells, the tunnel narrows and causes the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm.

How to tell if you have Carpal Tunnel syndrome?

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the thumb and the index and middle fingers. Your fingers may feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent. These symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during the night, when your flexed wrists are relaxed.

As symptoms worsen, you may feel this tingling during the day. You may find it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. In chronic or untreated cases, people are unable to tell between hot and cold by touch.

How is Carpal Tunnel syndrome caused?

The condition is often the result of a number of factors that increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the Carpal Tunnel, rather than a problem with the nerve itself. You may have a Carpal Tunnel that is smaller than others. More common, though, is a trauma or injury to the wrist that cause swelling, such as sprain or fracture; work stress where repeated tasks in uncomfortable positions causes the nerve to rub on the interior wall of the tunnel. Writer’s cramp may also be brought on by repetitive activity, but this is not necessarily a CT injury.

Can Carpal Tunnel syndrome be prevented?

At the workplace, workers can do on-the-job conditioning, perform stretching exercises, take frequent rest breaks, and wear splints to keep wrists straight, but correct posture and wrist position is the most important. Ensuring that your wrists and palms maintain a natural position during working, and other typing, hours is the major proven way to ensure that you protect our wrists, so if you type for multiple hours, make sure that your wrists and hands are relaxed, supported and neutral.

 

The World’s Wackiest Computer Keyboards

If you have visited an office that in work in a specialized field, or have a friend whose home office is built around specific tasks such as coding, you may have gotten accustomed to seeing various different styles of keyboards with exciting and different-looking designs. If you have and think that you are missing something, here are a handful of recent keyboard designs that have come to the market and the reasons for their ‘Wacky Designs’.

 

Roll Up Keyboard

Roll up keyboard

Perhaps you are frustrated with inflexible keyboards? This fun, blue, flexible keyboard with the standard layout of 104 keys rolls-up for easy storage and portability. The manufacturer states that its dust and moisture proof, too.

Don’t get it confused with your Yoga Mat!

The Blank Keyboard

blank keyboard

Have you ever wanted to brag about your touch-typing skills? This is the ultimate bragger’s tool.

“I don’t need letters or numbers I know where everything is from memory!” Or perhaps it’s a test, or an office rookie hazing gag?

The Keyboard that isn’t there

Laser keyboard

This design features a laser tower projects a virtual keyboard on any surface, and reacts when you press a certain area of the light. I don’t think that working on a moving vehicle will be a popular choice with this keyboard.

 

The ‘Box’ Keyboard

Box keyboard

Although designed to ensure that those that work that numbers as well as alphabetic characters are always typing on a flat surface, doesn’t this look like a keyboard that 4 or 5 people can work on simultaneously – Kind of like Car-Pooling!

 

The Keyless Keyboard

keyless keyboard

 

A keyboard that looks like the front of your Mother’s stove! Slide the two dials into certain positions to trigger every keystroke you will need. We think it looks as if it belongs on the Navigation Bridge of a Starship.

The Wrist Keyboard

the wrist keyboard

Want to make a scene at the coffee shop while doing your Sunday coffee stop work? This will certainly turn heads. Of course you have to work out that arm before you can use it. It looks heavy to us!

 

The Tidy Typist

tidy typist keyboard

Now, this is something special: A felt ‘tablecloth’ that holds the keyboard, and then is decorated in a range of colors and designs. If Jane Austen were writing today, this would be her keyboard!

We wonder if it comes with the delightfully placed cup of tea.

 

We have had some fun in this post, with the very serious manufacturers of these specialist pieces of equipment. All of these designs are the results of long hours of research, testing, marketing and building. However, it is worth remembering that although there are lots of keyboards on the market to help you, not all will do the job for you.

Do your own research when looking for a Specialty keyboard. Think about its practicality and Functionality. It looks nice and thin, but does it do everything you need it to do?

It’s small and cute, but does that mean it is practical, and will it hurt you to use it?

It looks very fancy, but will it actually hurt your fingers, wrists, shoulders and back after a short while of using it?

When you do your keyboard shopping, ensure that you look for an ergonomic one first. Get one that is comfortable to use, and aids in a better posture. If you are comfortable first, the clever styles that you see could help you further in the particular job, but if you are comfortable for extended periods of time, the chances are you will become more productive.

An ergonomic design looks pretty cool, too!

Simple Workplace Exercises to keep you Pain-Free

Exercises

Good posture does not simply mean sitting up straight. Slouching over a computer keyboard all day can create a painful chain reaction throughout your body that can result in shoulder, neck or back pain, if not a combination of all three. Unfortunately, we don’t often feel the warning signs of this gradual wear-and-tear, we only feel the pain at the end of the process.

If sitting is part of your everyday, even if you try to lead an active lifestyle, then you should attempt to combine stretching exercises into your working days or evening: Stretching and Yawning don’t count! Browse the following list, and see if you can spare a few minutes daily to address your posture problems.

Back and Chest Stretching

To stretch your back muscles lie on your back, with knees bent at 90 degrees, and place your calves on the seat of a chair. Straighten your arms out from the shoulders with your palms up. Relax, breathing deeply, letting your low back settle into the floor. Hold the position for 5 minutes.

Ensure to stretch your chest: While in the same position. Lace your fingers, palms together, with your arms extended above your chest toward the ceiling. Extend your arms, keeping your elbows straight, over your head to the floor behind you. Repeat 30 times with a steady, controlled movement, and don’t forget to breathe.

Back to your back. Lie on your back with your feet on the wall and your knees bent less than 90 degrees (Your ‘glutes’ should only be about four to six inches from wall and knees almost touching chest). Lace your fingers behind your head to support your neck. Keep your elbows back while looking at the ceiling. Exhale as you use your stomach muscles to lift your shoulders, elbows and head off the floor then lower. Perform this for 1 minute.

Leg and Knee Exercises

The kneeling hip-flexor stretch: Kneel (preferably on a padded floor). Bring your right knee into a 90 degree angle and push your left leg back so it’s at an angle where you feel stretch in the front of your hip. Keep your legs parallel to each other and place your hands on your right knee and let your hips sink forward to the floor, keeping your upper body straight. Do not lean forward. Hold for 1 minute and switch legs.

Supine hip-flexor stretch: Lie on your back with your right leg bent and resting on a chair at a 90 degree angle. Place your left leg straight on the floor, keeping your toes pointed up so your knee and foot do not roll out. Place your arms straight out from your shoulders with your palms up.

Breathe deeply and relax your body. Remain in this position for 10 minutes, then repeat on your other side.

The ‘Air bench’: Sit against the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent at 90 degrees, heels straight under or slightly in front (not behind) of your knees. Keep your feet pointing straight ahead, push your lower back into wall and keep pressure on your heels. Press your shoulders back, keeping your head up, and relax your shoulders, neck, arms and hands. Hold for 90 seconds.

Of course, if you start to feel any discomfort, gently move yourself out of the position.

The Right Equipment

You can always address pain and suspected injury due to stress and bad posture by investing in the right working equipment. Check into the right ergonomic keyboards and, if you are serious, search for ‘Mechanical Key keyboards’ to give your fingers a break from their own stress!

Is it Time to ‘Switch’ your Keyboard?

worker stress funny

The more that you investigate about keyboards, in order to find the ‘perfect one for you’, the more detailed info ration you will find. Pretty early on in this process, it will become obvious to you that a keyboard’s keys, and the mechanisms below them, tucked out of site of the users, are the most important components that you will need to learn more about. The real job is learning about the switches below those keys.

The Finger points

After all, these are the points that your body actually touches any keyboard. Your fingers are the conduits that your brain signals communicate through. It doesn’t matter if you write blog posts, specialist technical journals, or simple e-mails. If you are at all uncomfortable, it is your fingers that will feel it first. Any kind of pain or discomfort you feel at the contact point will soon grow into nerve pain through your palms, wrists, arms and back.

Whether or not you are investigating moving beyond the ‘off the rack’ keyboard that comes with your working or home computer, or interested on what different products are on the market, eventually you will look at the different kind of physical keys that there are on the market, and you will be faced with a decision: Do I buy Rubber-Domed or Mechanical switches?

The Rubber-Domed Switch

The vast majority of keyboards on the market today feature a Rubber or Silicon dome that sits directly under the key that you see, connect to the ‘works’ that lie under the keyboard, and between keying action and the letter appearing in screen.

The visible part of the key is called the Key Cap. These are relatively expensive items that must deliver a long life. However, it is the switch below it that receives all of the trauma and shock of being pressed – or hit! – Repeatedly over the life of the product. A much more cost effective method is to protect this switch with a simple rubber dome that sits under the Key Cap, and suffers the repeated shock of action time and time again.

The differences in the shape and thickness of the domes that the mass producer of your keyboard uses determines the travel distance, resistance, and tactile feedback of the switch.

Being Mechanical

Mechanical key-switches are more elaborate and made in a better quality than other key-switch types.  In this system, each key has its own independent key-switch mechanism that will register when a key is pressed.

In most cases the key is actuated (the keystroke is generated, and sent to the computer) halfway through the key travel distance. For example, the key may be capable of traveling 3 mm before hitting the bottom of the key-well, but the keystroke is generated after 1.5 mm.

As there is no requirement to travel the full key travel distance when being operated,  typists enjoy the luxury of not pressing keys fully down, reducing the constant jarring action on fingertips when ‘bottoming out’ and associated unnecessary muscle action. Additionally, the constant use if these types of keys offer increasing resistance after the keystroke is generated, encouraging the user to stop pressing down the keycap and instead move on to the next keystroke. Finally, key-caps snap back to the starting position (i.e. up) more quickly than other key-switch types, facilitating faster typing speeds.

Of course, Mechanical key-switch keyboards are more expensive when initially bought, but their working life is much longer. Together with the lowered risk of injury caused by repetitive stress injury, you may want to investigate a keyboard with mechanical switches for a more pleasant working experience.

Disability Prevention Practices: Making the Most of Your Space

messy-office

If it’s time to re-organize your work-space, either the layout of an individual cubicle, a busy shared space, or even a home office – otherwise known as “The Spare Bedroom” –  start asking the following questions: What space do I have? What do I need in a workspace? What do I want from my workspace? Here are a few things that we have learned:

Let It Go

Firstly you should stop cramming your workstation with everything that you need for every possible eventuality. Many workers take far too much on themselves, with multiple projects open at the same time and too much paperwork on their desks, all to satisfy a muddled, ongoing daily plan. This results in too tight a working space, shrinking it to a crowded, overbearing environment, and making you force yourself into too uncomfortable a space for productive work. Learn to use your computer more, and paperwork less.

You should be able to work in a logical, ordered manner that focuses your concentration on one area. It stops you having to turn your head continually or stretching too far repeatedly – both bad habits that affect your working posture.

Are you Sitting Comfortably?

Are you comfortable when you work? You should be able to hinge at the waist easily, sit squarely, with both feet flat on the floor, supporting your lower back, reaching your computer keyboard without stretching, and without splaying your elbows out either side into thin air.

While you are looking at your keyboard, check out some of the new ones on the market that feature columnar key arrangement, so that you aren’t using staggered keys. You will find that your fingers lay and work much easier on these keyboards than on the more traditional computer keyboard. These keyboards are truly ergonomic, create less wrist-hinge, and take up less desk space to save you stretching for your mouse.

Where is Your Storage?

If it is possible to have storage above your head, use this to its maximum. It is far too easy to use files in lower desk drawers that force you to turn, hinge, reach and pull heavy items out of the usual stacking desk drawers when you are in an uncomfortable, unsupported position.

Bu using higher storage that is at eye-level usually requires you to stand and retrieve items while you are facing straight, your arms are in front of you, and you are anchored in a better position to take weight.

If you must have storage for items that are too unwieldy to store and be available when you require them, store them in another area, away from the desk. This forces you to stand up from your desk, and walk somewhere to complete this task. Once again, this leads to a better lifting posture that cuts down on the twisting and weight transference that lead to many workplace injuries.

The Home Office

Who would have thought that we have reached a point in time where everything we do is now at a desk, or in the palm of our hands? Now we are working, playing, communicating, and researching at a desk through the same piece of equipment.

Because your Home Office is part of your living conditions, it tends to look different from your work area: More elegant, bigger, more ornate and plusher. Ask yourself the same questions as above, when thinking ergonomically. Does it do the job without causing strains in your lower back, shoulders, or wrists? You would be surprised how much time you actually spend at it – and this time is growing annually. If your copies of Nineteenth century Lawyer’s chairs and Partner Desks look fantastic but cause you pain, then it’s time to get rid of them, and get something more ergonomic.

We all spend a lot of time sitting down, staring at a screen, referring to documentation, and lifting and turning. There are great computer peripheries and office equipment to make your days and evenings more enjoyable, less painful, and a lot less stressful. You owe it to yourself to make your online time as comfortable as possible.

Do you need a workplace Ergonomic Program?

Yes, and Here’s Why….

Have you ever finished a day’s work at your desk, and stretched to relieve some pesky back or shoulder pain? Have your wrists ever felt uncomfortably locked in one position for an extended period? Have you looked forward to a loving shoulder-rub from your loved one when you finish work, because you have a nagging ache in them?

Although these complaints seem small, every day, and trivially “niggly”, they could be symptoms of a much larger problem: Irreversible nerve damage caused by a poorly designed workstation, bad body posture, or a lack of support to your wrists and hands.

Workplace Stress Facts

The World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr18/en/) reported in 2006 that approximately two million people die worldwide each year as a result of occupational incidents and work related illnesses or injuries. Additionally, over 268 million annual workplace accidents result in an average of three lost workdays per accident, as well as 160 million new cases of work-related illness each year. That was 8 years ago, and today thousands more people slave away at a computer keyboard for many more hours every day.

In Canada, worker’s compensation boards routinely pay billions of Dollars due to workplace absences, and reduced productivity – more than costs concerning Cancer or Cardio-Vascular disease.

Everyday Pain

These incidents include traumatic events including vehicles, falls, and the results from occupational events outside of the everyday administration environment. However, the stresses to those who live their working lives at a computer keyboard are a ‘silent killer’ that take multiple years to form. They have no reversible cure and not only leave workers in constant pain, but increase disability costs associated with work absenteeism and a rising prevalence of chronic disability in the population that contribute to reduced workplace productivity.

Is there a way for us to reduce the amount of payouts, make workers happier, experience less pain, grow a happier, healthier workplace and stop the slide of productivity?

Yes and the answer is Ergonomics.

Prevention and Collaboration

Even for those that aren’t working in the factory, on the lot, or in dangerous occupations, small changes in working style, office equipment, and working time can answer all of these problems, as well as lower the stress levels of busy interior working environments shared by many individuals. After all, if you have one worker that is short-tempered due to personal pain, how much of this negativity is being spread across the entire office?

In fact, there are guidelines already in place from Governments, Insurers, Unions, and Health Professionals that are readily available at no cost that show a spectrum of informative plans to make your office environment a more pleasant and less painful place to spend your day. It’s valuable to take the time to study these free resources to see what can be easily achieved.

Ergonomic Programs.

In every office there are similar collaborator networks that can help you: From management to human resources, disability management and trainers. Employees need to access these resources. Even those that work in a home office environment, alone with no-one to hear their pain, need to address posture issues, office equipment, computer keyboards, and do whatever they can to ensure they have a Truly Ergonomic workplace.

It’s time to take a proactive approach to support disability prevention, ergonomically planned workplaces, and to ensure that that small twinge that is hardly worth mentioning, or a very small shoulder inflammation that requires a rub occasionally, isn’t a sign of something bigger. Grow your working productivity, lower your stress, be happier at work, feel less pain, and save yourself from undocumented stress problems that will mount over time and cause major life-long problems later in life.