According to the Institute of Medicine, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMD) cost $45-$54 billion annually in workers’ compensation, lost wages and lost productivity in the United States. Common work-related musculoskeletal disorders include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and low-back injuries. A few simple workspace adjustments can reduce your chances of injury, says Amanda West, M.S., OTR/L, an occupational therapist at UAMS.
- Adjust your workspace ergonomically. Angle your monitor to where your line of sight is straight ahead or slightly below eye level. Keep your shoulders relaxed, elbows close to the body and supported, and wrists in line with your forearms. Adjust your chair to where your feet are touching the floor and your hips and knees are at a 90-degree angle. If you are not able to do this, consider using a footrest. A computer workstation evaluation checklist is provided through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website for more detailed recommendations.
- Periodically take breaks to stand and walk around your workspace. Alternate between periods of sitting and standing if you have an adjustable sit-to-stand workstation. Also, take short breaks to stretch your neck, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands to reduce strain after working for long periods of time
- Make sure your workspace is well lit and place commonly used items near you (i.e. printers, telephones, etc.). Consider using adaptable office accessories to reduce strain on your eyes, neck and arms. These can include glare-reducing screen covers, document holders and split keyboards.
Meet Amy Widner, communication specialist, Office of Communications & Marketing. Amy was having issues with her desk space causing her legs to fall asleep. When she was in the proper position for her wrists, her feet did not reach the floor. When she tried lowering her chair to have her feet on the floor, her desk space was too high, causing her to have wrist pain. Amy had her workspace evaluated by the Occupational Health and Safety department. It was determined that she needed a new chair and a footstool to be in the correct position.
Does your workspace cause you pain? If so, go to the Occupational Health and Safety website to request a consultation.