Then We’ll Begin…….
Millions of working days are lost each year through staff absence due to back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders and conditions (MSD’s). This can translate into hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of revenue being sacrificed through reduced productivity and sick leave.
More worryingly, there are an increasing number of litigation cases involving employee absences caused by pain and discomfort resulting from poor work posture.
If your office chair and desk is affecting your health or that of your employees, it’s time to think ergonomically. Given the amount of time that they spend at their computer or workstation, it is vital that they are sitting comfortably and, more importantly, correctly.
Implementing an ergonomic process has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of developing MSDs and it’s important to address the following;
Lead from the top – Right from the start, the powers that be need to get behind the idea and then come up with an inclusive strategy which they can then explain to their employees. Management needs to be 100% committed to improving the workplace and the well-being of their staff.
Identify Existing Problems – This is one of the most important steps as identifying the problem sufficiently early can prevent the occurrence of MSD’s.
Include the Employees in the Assessment Process – Only the employees themselves can comment on their individual issues and can provide a valuable insight into potential hazards. It’s important that management encourages clear two-way communication with the workforce at every stage of the assessment process.
Encourage Early Reporting of MSD Symptoms – This can accelerate the job assessment and improvement process, helping to prevent or reduce the progression of symptoms, the development of serious injuries, and subsequent losses to revenue via down-time or unnecessary claims.
Provide Appropriate Training – Ensuring both management and staff are well-informed is an important element of the process and can lead to early detection of potential MSD symptoms.
Formulate a Strategy for Ongoing Monitoring and Control – This should be fairly straight-forward once all the above points have been addressed. Again, the involvement of employees is imperative to ensure all procedures are fully understood.
Evaluate Progress – As with anything in business, your strategy must be constantly evaluated (and revised where necessary) to ensure it leads to continuous improvement in working conditions and reduce MSD related losses. Again, staff involvement at this stage will ensure that ergonomic assessment is incorporated into your daily business operations, rather than being viewed as a separate process.
Sitting in an office chair is, at best, a necessary evil, but if you are sitting in an office chair that is not designed with your body in mind, it is only a matter of time before you feel uncomfortable.
So, if you’re reading this article sitting down—the position we all hold more than any other, for an average of 8 to 9 hours a day—stop and take stock of how your body feels. Is there an ache in your lower back? A light numbness in your rear and lower thigh? They may well be caused by doing precisely what you’re doing—sitting. You most probably need a new chair.