Solutions Northwest, Author at Solutions Northwest, Inc.
Seattle, WA: 206-521-5676 Olympia, WA: 360-236-8748 Portland/Salem, OR: 503-768-9742 San Diego, CA: 877-976-9462 Info@SolutionsNW.com
Assessing What Support Your Back Needs in Your Home Office

Assessing What Support Your Back Needs in Your Home Office

Assessing What Support Your Back Needs in Your Home Office

Are you sitting at your desk right now? Are you slumped over, elbows on the desk, with your head in your hand? Or are you sitting up straight?

Posture is important not only for the health of your spine but can help you feel more productive in your work environment. Proper lumbar support is one of the most important aspects your home office should have.

Keep reading for our tips for and recommendations for your home office and how to better support your back.

Remote Worker Ergonomics AssessmentWhy is lumbar support important? 

People who spend many hours a day at their desks or work at a computer are more likely to slouch or lean in their chairs.

This can lead to long-term back pain, stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, neck strain, leg pain, and other potential spine issues. If you’ve ever had back pain, you know how easy it can put you out of commission.

If you’re working remotely, chances are your home office is not as ergonomic as your desk at work. A good office chair offers lumbar support and helps your spine maintain its natural curve. Without support for your back, you are more likely to slouch or sit in awkward positions.

Learn what good lumbar support entails. 

A chair with good lumbar support should allow you to sit up straight with your back flush against the chair and at the small of your back.

The proper position you should assume at your desk is:

          • Head back, over your shoulders, not leaning forward or backward
          • Chest out
          • Tailbone tucked in
          • Feet slightly apart and a few inches ahead of your knees

This new posture may cause muscle fatigue at first if you are not used to it. Having a chair or cushions that hold the shape of your spine may help you adjust to this seated position.

The height of your desk, chair, and computer also play important roles in maintaining your posture and support for your back. Your desk should be between 24 and 34 inches high, depending on your height.

Your head should be around 20 to 30 inches, or an arm’s length, away from your computer screen. The height of your seat should allow you to comfortably sit with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at an angle slightly larger than 90 degrees.

Investing in an adjustable desk may be a good option for you. An adjustable sit-stand desk has been shown to increase employee productivity and help back and neck pain.

Consider having a remote ergonomics assessment.

Remote ergonomics assessments are a low-cost solution to setting up your home office. For example, ergonomics companies like Solutions Northwest Inc. offer virtual ergonomics assessments for as low as $50. An ergonomics consultant will consult with you over e-mail, phone, or webcam and recommend improvements to your workstation.

While you may be required to purchase new equipment, these types of investments will pay off in the long run. Working in a properly setup workstation leads to more productivity and less pain. Read our article “3 Reasons Every Remote Worker Needs a Remote Ergonomics Assessment” to learn why we believe every remote and home office worker needs a professional ergonomics assessment.

In conclusion, don’t ignore your home desk ergonomics.

Whether you’re doing remote work once in a while or permanently working from home, make sure your home office has the right ergonomic set up to avoid back pain.

For more information about how to support your back properly in your home office, check out the rest of our ergonomics blog, or contact us with questions.

At SolutionsNW.com we value the importance of a positive workplace culture. Part of a positive workplace is a safe workplace, Contact Us to schedule an ergonomics consultation or ergonomics assessment for your office today.

Subscribe to our ergonomics blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics evaluations available in: Seattle, WA, Tacoma, WA, Olympia, WA, Vancouver, WA, Kent, WA Renton, WA, Beaverton, OR, Portland, OR, Salem, OR, San Diego, CA, Carlsbad, CA, La Jolla, CA, Irvine, CA, Costa Mesa, CA, Newport Beach, CA.

 

Contact the Ergonomics Experts at Solutions Northwest Inc. Below:

Multiple Locations

Corporate Office: 120 State Ave. NE #397
Olympia, WA 98501
Business Hours: 8am-5pm M-F
Corporate FAX: 360-866-4773
Email: Info@solutionsnw.com

San Diego, CA

877-976-9462

Olympia, WA

360-236-8748

Portland/Salem, OR

503-768-9742

Seattle, WA

206-521-5676

Contact our Ergonomics Experts

What to Expect From a Functional Capacity Evaluation

What to Expect From a Functional Capacity Evaluation

What to Expect From a Functional Capacity Evaluation

Almost three million Americans suffered an on the job injury or illness in recent years. If you are one of them, you might need to take a functional capacity evaluation to receive rehabilitation services.

Functional capacity evaluations are a way to see if a person can meet the physical and mental demands of a job.

Contact Vocational Consultants for Assessments on Worker Compensation Seattle WashingtonWho requires a functional capacity evaluation?

Not sure if someone meets the requirements for an FCE? Here are some reasons they might qualify:

  • Applying for Social Security benefits
  • Students transferring from a school setting to work
  • Someone who needs vocational rehabilitation
  • Someone coming back to work after a serious accident

These are a few of the reasons you might need to take a functional capacity evaluation. Usually, it will be an attorney, human resources manager, or insurance representative that will recommend you take one.

What does a functional capacity evaluation look at?

An FCE looks at two things: impairment and disability. Impairment is a medically assessed change in someone’s overall health. Disability is the inability to complete what is required by the job.

An impairment could be something like the loss of a finger while operating machinery. Meanwhile, a disability would include something like an inability to lift objects heavier than 10 pounds in a job that required it.

To determine impairment or disability, an occupational therapist will generally go through four steps:

  1. Initial interview
  2. Reviewing medical history and records
  3. Performing a physical exam
  4. Functional capacity evaluation

What does a functional capacity evaluation consist of?

You will be asked to complete certain physical tasks related to your job. Below are a few tasks might be required to perform:

  • Pushing and pulling an object
  • Lifting various weights
  • Ability to balance when standing, walking, running, or crouching
  • Lifting and stooping
  • Measuring finger dexterity
  • Sitting for extended periods of time
  • Grasping and gripping an object
  • Climbing up and down scaffolding, stairs, etc.

There are more elements of the evaluation, but you may not be asked to perform all of them. Some evaluations last as long as two days.

How should you prepare for a functional capacity evaluation?

As you can see, you will be doing a lot of physical activity during your evaluation. Make sure to dress appropriately in comfortable clothes and sneakers.

Make sure you bring anything related to your condition. That includes medications, braces, canes, or any other relevant medical equipment.

You will be pushing yourself to maximum capacity. If you feel worse and need to stop, notify the specialist evaluating you.

In conclusion, feel confident going to your functional capacity evaluation appointment.

Make sure to communicate with your therapist, attorney, human resources representative, and others before, during, and after.

Do only what you can. Don’t make your condition worse and be clear about what you can and can’t do.

At the end of the day, this test is here to help you get what you need. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to us at Solutions Northwest Inc. and we can help. Solutions Northwest Inc. employs experts in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and family law. If you need our guidance, our legal experts are ready to guide you through the process.

Contact us today to make an appointment.

Subscribe to our blog for more work related tips from Solutions Northwest, Inc., experts available in: Seattle, WA, Tacoma, WA, Olympia, WA, Vancouver, WA, Kent, WA Renton, WA, Beaverton, WA.

Contact the Vocational Consultants at Solutions Northwest Inc. Below:

Multiple Locations

Corporate Office: 120 State Ave. NE #397
Olympia, WA 98501
Business Hours: 8am-5pm M-F
Corporate FAX: 360-866-4773
Email: Info@solutionsnw.com

Seattle, WA

206-521-5676

Olympia, WA

360-236-8748

Contact our Vocational Consultants

How to Use Proper Ergonomics While Gardening

How to Use Proper Ergonomics While Gardening

How to Use Proper Ergonomics While Gardening

Gardening can be a relaxing and meditative way to relieve stress for some or a chore for others. Either way, gardening should not cause you pain when you do it correctly. This ergonomics blog will explore some techniques everyone can use to avoid injury while gardening.

Remote Worker Ergonomics AssessmentWarm up your body before doing gardening.

If you’re going to do extensive gardening or yard work, ergonomics experts suggest that it is a good idea to warm up your body first. The easiest way to warm your body up is to take a short walk around the block for 15 minutes or do some other form of cardio get your blood moving.

Studies from Heart.org explain that a warm-up “dilates your blood vessels, ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen. It also raises your muscles’ temperature for optimal flexibility and efficiency. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart.”

Every job is easier with the proper tools.

While it may require a financial investment, investing in your health and safety will always pay off in the long run. For example, to avoid kneeling while gardening, purchase a garden stool instead of bending down and straining your back. If you must kneel, invest in a padded kneeler.

When possible, use tools which allow you to stand while using them. A wagon is your friend if you need to transport heavy material and gloves will help make it easier to grip, carry objects, and handle soil. Most gloves will work well, even a baseball batting glove will work.

Keep safety glasses nearby when using power tools or weed whackers to protect your eyes.  For shovels or other tools, use soft handles which fit your grip. You can also add foam rubber or grip tape to provide padding to hard handles.

Remember, keep your tools in good shape, so they do not break and cause injury while you are using them.

Create an ergonomic friendly work environment.

Gardening doesn’t have to give you lower back pain. Create a gardening environment that works with you by doing things like raising the surface of your planting space to reduce bending.

Consider vertical, elevated, and raised beds and containers to avoid frequent bending down. Ensure you do not use containers that are too large for harvest to make your work easier to manage.

Take breaks.

Vary tasks every half hour so that you don’t do the same task for too long. Setting a timer on your phone every half hour will help you remember. Take stretch breaks every 15-30 minutes.

Use proper form.

Always consider how you are moving your body while you perform actions. For example, when pruning, make sure you stand directly in front of the plant to avoid overreaching.

To avoid back pain, use good form and bend with your knees rather than bending forward with your back. When using a shovel, avoid twisting while shoveling.

Also, be sure to avoid straining yourself when moving heavy objects. Make use of a wheelbarrow to move heavy objects like soil and do not fill the wheelbarrow. Instead, fill the wheelbarrow to a comfortable level and make multiple, easy trips.

In conclusion, be actively conscious of your workspace and body movement while gardening.

Gardening should be a relaxing and stress reducing experience, not a painful one. The easiest way to avoid injury while gardening is to be mindful of your workspace, use proper tools, and use proper form while working.

To learn about more ways to incorporate proper ergonomics into your life, check out our ergonomics blog. At SolutionsNW.com, we value the importance of injury free work. Contact Us to schedule an ergonomics consultation or ergonomics assessment today.

Subscribe to our ergonomics blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics evaluations available in: Seattle, WA, Tacoma, WA, Olympia, WA, Vancouver, WA, Kent, WA Renton, WA, Beaverton, OR, Portland, OR, Salem, OR, San Diego, CA, Carlsbad, CA, La Jolla, CA, Irvine, CA, Costa Mesa, CA, Newport Beach, CA.

 

Contact the Ergonomics Experts at Solutions Northwest Inc. Below:

Multiple Locations

Corporate Office: 120 State Ave. NE #397
Olympia, WA 98501
Business Hours: 8am-5pm M-F
Corporate FAX: 360-866-4773
Email: Info@solutionsnw.com

San Diego, CA

877-976-9462

Olympia, WA

360-236-8748

Portland/Salem, OR

503-768-9742

Seattle, WA

206-521-5676

Contact our Ergonomics Experts

Pros and Cons of Using an Exercise Ball for Desk Work

Pros and Cons of Using an Exercise Ball for Desk Work

Pros and Cons of Using an Exercise Ball for Desk Work

“The average office worker sits a shocking 15 hours every single day. And people who have long commutes, even more.”  – Forbes

For many American workers, their job requires them to sit at a desk and work on a computer. Whether an employee is working in an office setting or working remotely, it is not uncommon to have experienced discomfort or pain while sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time.

It doesn’t help matters that the American Heart Association claims that prolonged  “sedentary time — even among physically active people — may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and more.”

Remote Worker Ergonomics AssessmentIf sitting at your desk all day is uncomfortable and even unhealthy, is sitting on an exercise ball the answer? Read on to discover whether it is a good idea to use an exercise ball while working.

You may have noticed a trend of people using exercise balls, also known as stability balls or balance balls, as a chair for their desk. The claim is that using an exercise ball helps strengthen one’s core muscles and allows for more body movement while doing desk work.

Sitting on an exercise ball sounds like a fun idea in general. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy having a bouncy ball as a chair? Also, having a stability ball close by could encourage you to use it for exercise when you want to take an active work break.

While merely sitting on an exercise ball is not quite the same as using it for a strenuous workout, science does show that it can engage your core muscles.

However, VeryWellFit.com points out that “while one analysis found that this form of active sitting engages the core muscles, others found no difference in how the core is used between an exercise ball and a regular desk chair.”

The cons of using an exercise ball as a chair.

As fun as it sounds to sit on a giant ball while working, you may find it difficult to maintain proper ergonomics when using an exercise ball as a chair. For example, the exercise ball will often be too large or small for you to properly sit at your desk and view your monitor or reach your mouse and keyboard. An exercise ball does not have the same kind of adjustable height levels that you would find in a typical office chair.

Furthermore, while a stability ball may be an exercise tool, you will still be sitting for a prolonged period of time, which will likely still lead to pain and discomfort. According to one study on the use of stability balls as chairs, “a high number of participants reported pain with use of the stability ball alone and stability ball chair, 42% and 45%, respectively.”

People often start to slouch and develop back pain when they are working long hours and have no back support. Obviously, a ball does not have back support.

The other thing to consider is safety. Ergonomic chairs are designed to reduce the risk of injury. There have been slip and fall accidents when people have been using balls as desk chairs. All it takes to fall is the ball to slide out from under you or for it to burst.

What is the final verdict on exercise balls as chairs? Are there alternatives?

If you already own an exercise ball, it’s best to use it for exercise. When you sit at your desk, it should be in an ergonomic chair with proper ergonomics.

Proper ergonomics while working should always be your top priority. Improper ergonomics may lead to discomfort, musculoskeletal disorders (like carpal tunnel syndrome or tension neck syndrome), neck pain, back pain, and less productivity while working.

You may want to consider alternative ideas, like purchasing a sit-stand desk to add variety to your workday. Check out our blog about Sitting vs Standing Up while working for some good ideas on how to avoid pain while working a desk job.

Ultimately, you should find a balance that rests your body, keeps you moving, and allows for breaks when needed. For example, if you are mostly sitting down, stand and move for a couple of minutes every half an hour. If you are always on your feet, change positions every 20 to 30 minutes and make sure to sit down for a few minutes and rest.

By researching the best chairs to sit on at work, you have already taken a step in the right direction.

Try standing at your desk and using an office chair the rest of the day. Always remember to take breaks and adjust your sitting habits throughout the day.

When it comes to creating a pain free workspace for yourself, knowledge is key. At Solutions Northwest Inc., we recommend consulting with an ergonomics consultant to setup your workstation. Proper ergonomics will lead to less injury and pain while working, as well as make you more productive and efficient at work.

If you are a remote worker, we must recommend Solutions Northwest’s $50 Virtual Ergonomics Assessment that allows you to speak with an ergonomics consultant over e-mail, phone, or video call to customize your workstation specifically for your needs.

As always, please browse our ergonomics blog for more advice about safety and comfort in the workplace.

At SolutionsNW.com we value the importance of a positive workplace culture. Part of a positive workplace is a safe workplace, Contact Us to schedule an ergonomics consultation or ergonomics assessment for your office today.

Subscribe to our ergonomics blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics evaluations available in: Seattle, WA, Tacoma, WA, Olympia, WA, Vancouver, WA, Kent, WA Renton, WA, Beaverton, OR, Portland, OR, Salem, OR, San Diego, CA, Carlsbad, CA, La Jolla, CA, Irvine, CA, Costa Mesa, CA, Newport Beach, CA.

 

Contact the Ergonomics Experts at Solutions Northwest Inc. Below:

Multiple Locations

Corporate Office: 120 State Ave. NE #397
Olympia, WA 98501
Business Hours: 8am-5pm M-F
Corporate FAX: 360-866-4773
Email: Info@solutionsnw.com

San Diego, CA

877-976-9462

Olympia, WA

360-236-8748

Portland/Salem, OR

503-768-9742

Seattle, WA

206-521-5676

Contact our Ergonomics Experts

Vocational Law: Loss of Income vs Loss of Earning Capacity

Vocational Law: Loss of Income vs Loss of Earning Capacity

Vocational Law: Loss of Income vs Loss of Earning Capacity

Loss of income and earning capacity may sound similar in nature, but they differ greatly when it comes to a personal injury case. Loss of income, in particular, is a current widespread fear in the age of COVID-19.

In the following article, our personal injury experts at Solutions Northwest Inc. will go over the major factors that differentiate the two. However, let’s start with a definition of each. 

What is the definition of lost income and earning capacity?

Lost income is for work that has already been done. Loss of earning capacity means the money you would have made had you been enabled to go on working at your normal capabilities.

One deals with the past, while the other deals with the future. In both cases, you will need to replace the income that is no longer coming your way.

Figuring that out for the purposes of a settlement depends on the following factors:

1. Pay Stubs

The easiest way to replace your income through an insurance claim or lawsuit is to be able to show the actual work you have missed due to an injury that isn’t your fault. You can do that by pointing to your pay stubs and tallying up a total Contact Vocational Consultants for Assessments on Worker Compensation Seattle Washingtonnumber based on how many of them you have gone without. This primarily would pertain to loss of income.

2. Work Experience

The more work experience you possess, the higher your earnings will probably be. This is important when trying to prove missed earning capacity to your loss of earnings insurance provider. While more difficult to do, it can certainly help increase the size of your settlement.

3. Skills and Education

Another key factor in getting the replacement income you deserve is to be able to point to your skills and education. This varies among the workforce, and the more advanced you are, the more capable you are of demonstrating a higher earning capacity.

4. Promotions and Career Growth

Perhaps one of the most difficult things about calculating earning power is projecting possible promotions and career growth with a high enough degree of probability that the law will be on your side. To pull it off, you will need a great attorney and vocational experts.

You will also need ample documentation regarding your work, skills, and acknowledged performance. Consider examples like sterling employer reviews or acceptance into an established management training program at your company.

5. Time Away From Work

Time missed from work can help you clearly determine loss of income. Just factor up your rate of pay at the time of your injury and multiply by the number of checks you will miss. If you are included in an across-the-board raise with other workers during that time, you may have to make adjustments to factor in that fluctuation. 

Time away from work may also affect your earning capacity. We see that in the reduced number of hours COVID-19 has forced upon parents, particularly women.

6. Severity of the Injury or Impairment

Being out for an extended period of time, which can affect both loss of income and earning capacity, is the final factor we’d like to cover. If you’re out for an extended period (see above), loss of income should be easy to prove.

Out for good? That’s where you’ll need to start factoring in the intangibles to get at a believable number for earning capacity

In conclusion, loss of income and earning capacity are worth exploring.

If you are out of work for any length of time, you may only qualify for loss of income. However, both lost income and earning capacity are worth exploring the longer the situation goes on. 

For more legal considerations, check out some of our additional posts.  If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to us at Solutions Northwest Inc. and we can help. Solutions Northwest Inc. employs experts in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and family law. If you need our guidance, our legal experts are ready to guide you through the process.

Contact us today to make an appointment.

Subscribe to our blog for more work related tips from Solutions Northwest, Inc., experts available in: Seattle, WA, Tacoma, WA, Olympia, WA, Vancouver, WA, Kent, WA Renton, WA, Beaverton, WA.

 

 

 

 

Contact the Vocational Consultants at Solutions Northwest Inc. Below:

Multiple Locations

Corporate Office: 120 State Ave. NE #397
Olympia, WA 98501
Business Hours: 8am-5pm M-F
Corporate FAX: 360-866-4773
Email: Info@solutionsnw.com

Seattle, WA

206-521-5676

Olympia, WA

360-236-8748

Contact our Vocational Consultants

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