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The Dangers of Poor Ergonomics: How Your Work Space Can Affect Your Health

If you work in a non-ergonomic office space, day in, and day out, here’s how poor ergonomics could have a lasting effect on your health.

Did you know 1 in 3 people suffer from neck pain once a year? More women than men have problems with their necks.

Keep in mind that neck pain isn’t the only problem people deal with when it comes to ergonomics. If you aren’t sure how poor ergonomics will affect you, we’re going to help you.

Read more to learn about the effects of poor ergonomics in the workplace.

What Are Ergonomics?

To keep it as basic as possible, ergonomics means the law of work. When you do things with ergonomics in mind, it keeps things running smoothly. The goal when focusing on ergonomics is to create the most efficient work environment possible.

In recent years, more employers are noticing how important ergonomics are. For many companies, it took a lot of employees complaining about their pain and requiring surgeries and days off work. Some businesses were ahead of the curve and started to be proactive, but before recent years, this was rare.

While there are a lot of things you can apply ergonomics to, we’re going to talk about physical ergonomics mostly. Now that you have a basic understanding, it’s time to get into poor ergonomic effects.

Failing to Distribute Weight In Office Chairs Properly

It isn’t uncommon for office workers to spend hour after hour sitting. Most of the time, they are sitting hunched over their keyboard trying to get emails sent and to make important calculations.

Unless you are sitting in an ergonomically-friendly chair, it’s likely your body weight isn’t going where it should. There aren’t chairs for every body type and shape, so these chairs have to be adjustable.

A simple hack for making even the worst office chair better is using a proper seat cushion like the one here:

If your chair isn’t adjustable, it’s unlikely it’s ergonomically helpful.

Look at your chair and see if it curves with your back to support your back and shoulders. Your armrests also need to be where your elbows can be at a 90-degree angle.

When this is the case, you’ll experience less stress on your wrists, shoulders, and neck. If you put too much stress on these areas, you might lose some mobility and even get cysts in your wrists, which can be pretty painful if they pinch a nerve.

A good office chair isn’t that expensive, and if it isn’t in your office’s budget, you might consider bringing in your own chair. After all, it’s your back and neck that are going to be hurting—not your employers. Sitting in the wrong chair might require you have to have surgeries to fix the problem, and at the least, it will cause you to live a lower quality of life due to the pain.

Poor Device Placement

When you fail to put your devices in a good place, you’re going to experience some problems. Even if you have a great chair and plenty of supportive cushion, you won’t be comfortable if your devices are in the wrong places.

A keyboard that is placed too high or a monitor that makes you look down all the time is a big problem. Many desks have sliding drawers that allow you to place your keyword lower, so it can be more comfortable. If your desk doesn’t, you might need to buy a new desk.

Another thing to consider is buying a riser for your monitor. You don’t want your monitor to be down low, so that it makes it difficult for your neck.

If you’re always slouching at your desk, this could be a sign that your devices aren’t at the right height. It’s also not good if you’re always looking up to see your monitor. You shouldn’t overcorrect the problem, so it doesn’t hurt to do a few measurements before you move things.

You might find that you need an insert for your chair to help you with better posture. It’s really easy to slump over, but there are a lot of tools to help you keep good posture in mind.

Sitting for Long Periods

You might have heard people talking about how sitting is the new smoking. If you look around at the majority of office workers, it’s sure that you’ll be able to tell that most of these people don’t move much.

If you get up and move around throughout the day frequently, that will make a big difference. The sad truth is that most people just aren’t prepared to do this.

You and many of your coworkers are likely trying to power through your work in order to get finished as quickly as possible. You’re not doing your body any favors by not listening to its signals.

When you sit for too long, it’s likely you’ll loose leg and gluteal muscles. You may also experience things like chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Let’s not forget about mental health, either.

Getting creative with ways to get up and move around will allow you to decrease the time you’re seated working throughout the day. Your workplace might start to consider allowing you to work from an adjustable desk. Instead of only sitting while you’re working at your desk, you can also stand.

Taking frequent breaks to look away from the screen and even to walk around for a couple of minutes will make a big difference.

Protect Yourself From Injury

When you don’t have a good work environment that promotes proper ergonomics, you may develop musculoskeletal disorders. These conditions are painful and can even keep you from being able to do your work as you are used to doing it.

They affect your muscles, nerves, and tendons and cause major problems in many cases.

You’ve likely heard of carpal tunnel syndrome a few times. Many office workers worry about this problem because it’s pretty common when you’re doing a lot of repetition in your work.

Tendonitis is another problem you might run into if you don’t have proper posture when you’re doing all of that sitting. Tendonitis often happens in the wrists, elbow, or kneecaps.

Back injuries aren’t uncommon when you’re doing certain jobs. If you have to carry anything heavy or awkward, you might come up against back injuries.

When you’re lifting, you need to make sure you’re doing it properly. If you don’t lift properly, it’s almost certain that you’re going to get hurt.

Headaches and migraines are other things to look out for when you’re trying to protect your body at work. If you work long hours with poor lighting, it can cause headaches and even migraines.

You might be surprised to learn that poor lighting might even cause seemingly unrelated symptoms like indigestion.

To avoid headaches and migraines, you should keep your shoulders back and focus on improving your posture.

If you feel like your neck is always stuck, this could also be because of poor posture.

How to Know If Your Workplace Has Ergonomic Hazards

You might not think your workplace has problems with ergonomic hazards. You’ve done your best to make things right, and you figure your efforts were enough.

If employers are serious about protecting their employees, it is important to take a look at the workplace frequently. There are new developments that can help workers that might not have been available even a year ago.

There are some important questions to ask if you want to know if there are hazards where you work.

Some of those questions are:

  • What tasks are people doing over and over again?
  • Are all chairs customizable for each employee?
  • Are the workstations set up in a way that encourages good posture?
  • Do people have to do any hard labor repeatedly?
  • Are people using a lot of force for their work?
  • Are there workplace factors creating vibration?

If you notice that any of these questions point to a problem, you might need to take a closer look to make sure everyone is safe. If it’s not your responsibility, it’s important to bring it to someone above you that will be able to take care of any potential problems.

Poor ergonomics can hurt your health for the long term as well as the health of others in the workplace. It’s important to deal with these things as soon as possible since putting things off can cause problems to get worse and even become irreversible.

Say No to Poor Ergonomics

Now you know more about how to avoid poor ergonomics. Now you’ll be able to spot problems quickly, so you can remedy them. If you leave them alone too long, these problems can cause long-lasting effects.

Do you feel like you need more help with these types of problems? Continue through our blog for even more help with your business and life issues.

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