There are a couple of things about being safe and comfortable at the office that not a lot of people consider. First, the damage you could be doing now may not be obvious until later in life. Second, the boss will thank you if you increase your productivity.
Both are, of course, linked primarily to your workstation. And the way you sit, type, swipe, point, and click will affect your daily performance and long-term health. Poor equipment and set-ups can cause a range of problems from mild discomfort through to disability. Symptoms can develop after only a few days or an injury may take months or even years to develop.
The IT industry is littered with damaged bodies resulting from inappropriate hardware and an almost fatalistic dedication to keyboard and screen. That is, you work hard and you work long hours and you love the technology.
But it’s at a cost.
ACC figures reveal there are more than 82,000 workplace injury claims for pain and discomfort every year cost the country nearly $155 million. If injuries are treated and managed early, the cost per claim dives.
So, how do you avoid these debilitating injuries? Taking a breather is a great idea, but the IT culture doesn’t support frequent breaks. And this is where the boss comes in. If you think he might think you’re skiving off if you’re spotted walking the corridors, you’re both wrong. You are more productive if you get up at least every hour. Move about. Take a trek to pick up your printing. Instead of using email, break out for a chat or a meeting.
Researchers have found that individual performance increases 25% when employees use an ergonomically-designed workstation. Many computer manufacturers take a responsible approach to ergonomic matters.
Ten steps to a healthier, more productive workplace*:
- Conduct ergonomic assessments.
- Make seating comfortable and adjustable.
- Select a good monitor and place it at a comfortable height that doesn’t make users tilt their heads excessively up or down.
- Use ergonomic keyboards and mice
- Utilise software and hardware tools such as hot keys, wheels, programmable options, and other shortcuts for improving productivity.
- Properly position keyboards and mice.
- Improve lighting.
- Offer training.
- Manage employee health.
- Evangelise ergonomics.
For further help check out ACC and OSH websites at www.acc.co.nz/Injury-prevention/Work-safety/index.htm and www.osh.dol.govt.nz/.
*supplied by Microsoft’s ergonomic division