How many times has an employee blamed a workplace computer for discomfort or personal injury in your company? You'll be very unusual if the answer is zero and, believe me, the time may come. And when it does, there could be costs in terms of lost time, lower performance and perhaps even a workers comp claim. But much of this risk can be avoided by giving some thought to ergonomics in the workplace. It's a fancy word for a down-to-earth requirement: the design and use of fit-for-purpose equipment. It goes hand-in-hand with a simple set of rules you need for ensuring employees use their equipment correctly and take regular breaks. Without these, employees risk repetitive strain injuries, fatigue, eye-strain or back pain. If permanent damage results, you could face a serious liability claim.
Avoid this by putting an ergonomics policy in place. It doesn’t have to be fancy though it helps if it's written down and properly structured. The key element is checking and adjusting the way each employee uses their workstation. This includes:
• Adjusting chair height so feet rest comfortably on the floor, with knees level with hips. Or use a footrest if the chair is too high.
• Keeping objects within easy reach to minimize stretching.
• Placing the mouse within easy reach of the keyboard.
• Using a wrist-rest to minimize stress.
• Positioning wrists so they're straight when typing.
• Using a headset for frequent phone users (that is, not using the head to cradle the phone on the shoulder).
• Adopting the correct posture, with the body centered in front of the keyboard and monitor. Forearms should be level or tilted slightly upwards during typing.
I picked up this information in a simple guide produced by the Mayo Clinic. You'll find more detail here: http://tinyurl.com/mayo-ergo.
For a much more comprehensive overview, I recommend checking out two other sources -- the U.S. National Institutes of Health (http://tinyurl.com/NIH-ergo) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (http://tinyurl.com/OSHA-ergo).
Meanwhile, if you want to double check with me on your insurance protection against work-related injuries, why not give me a quick call? I'll be happy to answer your questions or carry out a quick review. 570-655-5222