4 Tips for Less Back Pain in the Office


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Musculoskeletal disorders, sometimes referred to as ergonomic injuries, account for a third of all injuries and illnesses that require time off work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 42 percent of these cases involved back injuries. It takes an average of seven days for a worker to recover from one of these ergonomic injuries. Here are four tips to reduce back pain before it brings the office to a halt.

Provide a custom chair to each employee who sits at a desk. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration, or OSHA, suggests a chair with an adjustable lumbar support that allows the outward curve of the backrest to fit into the small of the user’s back. Chairs should have adjustable height that allows the user to sit with her back against the backrest while her feet are on the floor. Position arm rests to support the lower arm while allowing the upper arm to maintain contact with the torso.

Use equipment that improves office ergonomics. The U.S. Department of Labor says that improved ergonomics can prevent up to a third of all back injuries. Copyholders, slant boards, and monitor stands that hold screens and materials at neck-friendly angles while track balls or a roller mouse improve upper back health. Foot rests and adjustable desks further reduce the risk for back pain in the office.

Introduce standing desks into the office. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes says that a sedentary lifestyle causes many cases of back pain. Standing desks drastically reduce the total number of hours a worker sits each day; standing also burns more calories than sitting at a desk.

Share the load when lifting heavy objects. Computer operators should ask for help with boxes of papers to reduce back pain in the office, for example, while a nurse could ask an aide for assistance when moving a patient from the bed to a chair. Remember to lift with your knees and keep your back straight.

Implementing ergonomically friendly strategies into the workplace can significantly reduce the risk for back pain. Customizable chairs, adjustable tables and monitor mounts, material holders and innovative mouse and keyboard designs improve ergonomics for office workers.

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