Whether you are an employee or a business owner, preventing injury in the workplace is a must!
There are times where injuries are unavoidable, however, there are certain things that you can implement to reduce the risk of sustaining an injury at work.
In this blog I will tell you 7 things that you can implement in your day-to-day work activities that will help you reduce the risk of injury and niggles at work. (This blog is a must read for both employees and employers).
Now I know what you must be thinking… “I already know how to set up my desk blah blah blah”. And you know what, you are probably right. But I am not here to tell you how to set up your desk space. This goes much more beyond the actual setup. Most people that I speak to know HOW to set up their desk space, however, most of them don’t know WHY it is important. Here I will explain to you HOW and WHY injuries occur with a poor desk setup.
a. Multiple screens – now, using multiple screens itself isn’t the issue. Multiple screens, if used correctly can improve work productivity. However, multiple screens, if used incorrectly can lead to pain and injury. The most common thing that I see with workers who use multiple screens is that they spend prolonged periods with their head turned to one side. Over time, being in this position can lead to pain and tightness in your neck. Further to this, those who already have pre-existing neck pain can further aggravate their symptoms.
i. Recommendation: When using multiple screens, make sure you set the screen that you will be looking at the most, directly in front of you. Whenever using the second screen, especially for longer periods, make sure you swivel your chair so that your body is facing the screen rather than just turning your head and neck.
b. Footrests- Normally the recommendation for an ergonomic setup is the use of a footrest. Whilst this is correct, you need to make sure that you have it setup correctly. A very common mistake that I see when people use footrests is having their knees above their hips. Think about this… a very common activity that causes or worsens lower back pain is sitting. This is because the spine is in a flexed and compressed position. When using a footrest with your knees above your hips, this puts your lower back in a more flexed position and hence increases the amount of compression in your lower back. For those of you who spend hours and hours sitting at your desk all day, no wonder you feel stiff and sore by the end of the day.
i. Recommendation: When using a footrest, make sure the height of your seat is adjusted so that your knees are below the level of your hips.
Another thing that as an employee or employer, you are already implementing in your work. But the reality of it is that even though the recommended way of lifting is bending at your knees rather than bending from your back, I bet most of you still perform this incorrectly because the nature of the job requires things to be done in a timely manner, and the incorrect way of lifting helps to speed up the process.
a. Recommendation: As an employer, remind your workers about the importance of safe lifting regularly. Put up easy to see signs about safe lifting around the workplace, especially in areas where your workers will need to perform these tasks. As an employee, reminding your co-workers about the importance of safe lifting, and, helping each other out when possible to reduce the load on one person.
Posture is one of those things that everyone knows they need to be mindful of, but nobody ever does anything about it. Do you want to know why? Posture, unless you are consciously thinking about it, will never be at the forefront of your mind and as a result, you fall into old habits – rolled shoulders, slouched forward, head forward.
a. Recommendation Write on a piece of paper or sticky note something that will remind you to fix your posture. You can write down whatever you want that will serve as a reminder. Then stick this next to your computer or workstation. That way, you will be reminded constantly throughout the day to fix your posture rather than getting to the end of the day and feeling sore and tight in your neck and shoulders due to bad posture.
Taking regular rest break
Taking regular rest breaks is going to be important no matter what your job involves. This is going to be important to avoid feeling tight and niggly. Over time, this tight and niggly feeling can lead to injury.
a. Recommendation: If your job involves sitting all day, then take regular rest breaks from sitting. This can be in the form of getting up to walk around or to perform your work standing up. If your job involves lots of lifting or manual labour, then take regular breaks from these tasks to avoid muscle fatigue. Performing these tasks under fatigue could potentially lead to injury.
Prevention vs Reaction
The act of preventing an injury is always much better than reacting once you have an injury. It allows you to nip it in the butt before it becomes a problem.
a. Recommendation: Taking on board the recommendations above is the first step in trying to prevent injuries from occurring. Another way you can prevent injuries is by seeing a physiotherapist when you have any niggles or pains. This will allow you to get on top of the issue before it becomes a bigger issue. As an employer, it may be worthwhile offering your workers that you will pay for “X” amount of sessions in order to get them feeling better again. Yes, this means that it comes at an extra cost to you, but if you can stop it from becoming an injury, then this will save you money in the long run as it means that your workers will take less time off work and it will also reduce the chances of turning into a work cover claim.
Staying on top of injuries/niggles that occur outside the workplace that can affect work performance (sports/gym etc)
Even non-work-related injuries are important to stay on top of. This is because, even though they are non-work related, they can still affect optimal work performance.
a. Recommendation: As an employer, try to be as accommodating as possible with your workers who have sustained injuries from outside of work. Allow them to come in late or finish early so that they can make their health appointments. Chances are, if they aren’t going to appointments during work hours, then they probably aren’t going at all. And if they aren’t going at all, then this means that it will affect their work productivity for longer than needed, and as a result, have a negative impact on your business.
Hands on physio treatment
Hands-on physio treatment is super important in not only treating injuries and niggles, but also in helping to prevent pains from turning into more serious injuries. This helps to prevent work cover claims and helps to reduce sick days, which in turn creates a more productive and successful workplace.
a. Recommendation: Book in with a physiotherapist to receive a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan.
Does this sound relevant to you? If so, book in with one of our physiotherapists ASAP!