As you begin to read this post, stop for a moment and answer the following questions: Are both of your feet flat on the floor? In order to see your screen, how are you holding your head and neck? What kind of chair are you sitting on? When you leave the office at the end of the day, how does your body feel?
Millions of people spend 40 hours a week or more sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen all day. It is something that employees across a variety of industries and careers share.
OSHA has come up with the top 4 tips for sitting (ergonomically) pretty.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recommends these 4 tips for computer workstations:
- Hands, wrists and forearms straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor
- Feet fully supported by the floor or a footrest if the desk height is not adjustable
- Thighs and hips supported by a well-padded seat and generally parallel to the floor
- Knees about the same height as the hips with feet slightly forward
OSHA and other ergonomic experts also recommend taking several breaks throughout your workday to break up prolonged periods of sitting still in the same posture. These breaks can include making small adjustments to your chair or backrest, stretching your fingers and hands, or standing up and walking around every few hours.
It may seem simple enough to follow these guidelines, or disregard them if you’re sitting “comfortably,” but several types of injuries can stem from improper posture and equipment in the workplace, including neck strain, tendonitis and bursitis in the shoulders, hands or wrists, lower back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Companies may drag their feet on purchasing more ergonomically correct (and therefore more expensive) equipment, but it is likely to be a cost-saving approach in the end. Some experts estimate that “the return on investment of properly executed ergonomic programs have been estimated as high as 16 to 1, i.e., $16 saved for each dollar invested” through worker’s compensation and other injury claims.
Try to think about these suggestions throughout the week.
Does it feel awkward to sit correctly? If so, chances are your normal position isn’t quite ergonomically correct. Are you experiencing any of those aches and pains at the end of a long day?
Try bringing to your employer’s attention issues you see with your current equipment and suggestions on things that may work better or try gathering a group of coworkers to get up and do those stretches once or twice a day.
You may be surprised at what a difference a few minor changes make.