Health Benefits Of Ergonomics

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Health Benefits of Ergonomics

Ergonomics involves designing workplaces and work tools to be used easily, efficiently and effectively by people. The overall goal is to promote health and productivity in the workplace. Where ergonomic principles are not applied, chronic musculoskeletal disorders such as tendinitis of the arm and hand, eyestrain injury and back injuries may be common.

Most people are concerned when they cannot use parts of the body like they know they should be able to use them. People are often unaware of ways to prevent injury, and ergonomics will introduce methods that will help reduce those injuries. Chiropractors recommend using ergonomics in a professional environment as well as at home. Following simple guidelines can help prevent injury to the arms and hands, eyes, and back. Everyday activities at work, home, or play can cause wear and tear on muscles, joints, tendons, and nerves. Problems can be a direct result of poor posture, repetitive motion, and excessive force or pressure to any part of the body.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides ergonomic consulting services to companies, labor organizations and government agencies. In an environment where Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and the associated workers' compensation costs continue to increase, these services are directed to identifying the risk factors to such disorders and assisting clients in reducing the hazards created by these factors.

Increased or constant productivity is a concern of every employer. Employers want to know that their employees are doing their best. Therefore, employers should strive to make the work environment suitable for productivity. The ergonomics program is designed to do just that. In most cases, a happy employer leads to happy employees.

The purpose of the ergonomic program is to make employers aware of injury prevention. Such awareness can to increased productivity, a decrease in the number of worker's compensation cases, and a decrease in number of lower back injuries.

The information provided to you in this proposal will make you, as an employer, see the necessity of applying ergonomics to your working environment. Studies have shown that with increased computer use, the numbers of Repetitive Motion Disorders has tripled since 1979.

These ergonomic consulting serves are provided by trained and experienced industrial engineers and health professionals. The range of services include:
Workstation evaluation and modification;
Job evaluations combined with recommendations for modifications;
Tool design to reduce hand and forearm fatigue;
Training of employees and supervisors in ergonomic concepts, proper work break patterns and exercises;
Assistance with the evaluation and selection of furniture and hand tools;
Review of medical management protocol for employees with cumulative trauma disorders;
Design of an effective Ergonomics Program to meet in-house needs and satisfy pending OSHA Ergonomic regulations.
Definitions and Symptoms
RSI (also known as RMI, repetitive movement injury, OOS, occupational overuse syndrome, and CTD, cumulative trauma disorder) is a description, and not a diagnosis. It is a term which has many causes and many manifestations. Carpal tunnel syndrome, CTS, is a specific condition, and therefore a diagnosis. It is this sort of confusion which leads to many arguments that "RSI does not exist."

The many diagnosable disorders that RSI encompasses include carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve entrapment, tennis elbow, and tendinitis. These disorders can develop gradually and affect many parts of the body as a result of repetitive action over time. Many symptoms may come and go before settling in: aching, tenderness, swelling, pain, cracking, tingling, numbness, loss of strength, loss of joint movement, and diminishing coordination of the injured area. These symptoms can then lead to the disorders listed above. Although the causes of RSI are controversial, most sufferers will agree that a stressful day will worsen their symptoms, simply by increasing muscle tension and thereby pain. RSI is caused by many shared and individual factors, including physical fitness, muscle tension, individual work habits, stress, long hours, lack of breaks, bad ergonomics, and poor, static posture. In the office environment, the most common reported injuries were eyestrain, lower back pain, and pain in the arms and hands.

Eyestrain Basics
Reflective glare, such as on computer screens, sometimes causes eyestrain. But its worse effect may be causing you to change your posture to an uncomfortable position in order to see well. The most overlooked cause of eyestrain in offices is contrast -- usually, a dark screen surrounded by a bright background such as a window or a lit wall. Eyes are strained more by close viewing than by distant viewing.

If you gaze at something too long, your eyes can tire. Eyes need to focus at different distances from time to time. It is a good idea to follow the "20/20 rule" --- every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds. Computer work rarely causes nearsightedness; it more likely makes you realize that you need glasses.

Low Back Pain
Back pain is as mystifying today as it was decades ago. Despite excellent tests and procedures, modern back specialists admit that up to eighty percent of all cases have no clear physiological cause. In fact, many pain-free people show bulging or herniated discs in x-rays. Job characteristics are predictors of back pain. Jobs with heavy or frequent lifting are high risks, as are jobs involving prolonged standing or sitting. People who sit for long periods are at risk for back disorders. The two greatest problems seem to be 1) sitting upright or forward, and 2) not changing position. An upright posture with a ninety-degree hip position is actually unhealthy. For a number of reasons, the discs experience more pressure ---- and the pressure is more lopsided --- than while standing.

Upper back and neck discomfort is often related to upward viewing angles (for example, monitors above eye height) or leaning, twisting, or reaching (for example, looking down and sideways at a document on the desk, or reaching for a mouse). Signs and symptoms include pain when attempting to assume normal posture, decreased mobility, and pain when standing or rising from a seated position.

Although back injuries account for no work-related deaths, they do account for a significant amount of human suffering, loss of productivity, and economic burden on compensations systems. Back disorders are one of the leading cause of disability for people in their working years.

Arms and Hands
There are many kinds of Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) medical conditions that have ergonomic causes among office workers, including carpal tunnel syndrome and various kinds of tendon inflammation. Because of the complexity and subtle differences between disorders, physicians do not always diagnose CTDs correctly or easily. CTDs can happen when there is very little repetitious work. Besides repetition, other possible causes includ

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