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3 Reasons Every Workplace Needs an Ergonomics Assessment

3 Reasons Every Workplace Needs an Ergonomics Assessment

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

 

Ergonomics: “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely, called also biotechnology, human engineering, human factors, ergonomic” as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Whether you work in an industrial warehouse or an office, every workplace should have an ergonomics assessment done. An ergonomics assessment (sometimes referred to as workstation assessments) will ensure that your office is not only safer to work in, but more productive and more efficient as well.

An ergonomics assessment is designed to lower risk of injury and improve employee productivity by ensuring that a worker’s workspace is ergonomically sound.

Below are just a few of the many reasons every workplace needs an ergonomics assessment:

1. An ergonomics assessment will save your company money in the long run.

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While it may be tempting to save money by not using an expert to assess your workstation, it will pay off in the long run.  Businesses will save money when there is less workplace injury, less compensation claims, more efficient workers, and lower insurance.

According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industry, “on average an ergonomics assessment will pay for itself in about 8.4 months.”

2. Productivity and the quality of your product will improve.

An ergonomics assessment of a workstation will allow employees to work faster with less effort. Proper posture, fewer motions, less difficult reaches, and less exertion means efficient employees and a higher quality product.

 “Businesses report an average increase of 25% in productivity and a 67% reduction in errors after an ergonomic assessment” according to WSDLI.

3. Your employees will love you for it!

Employees will appreciate the effort that your company invests into ensuring that they have a healthy, safe, and productive workplace. Employees perform their tasks every day, so they know when certain injuries or pains could have been prevented by proper equipment and a proper ergonomic assessment.

You may even receive a spike in productivity from their happiness alone. According to the University of Warwick, “happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.”

In conclusion

An ergonomics assessment not only ensures a safer work place, but also improves productivity and creates a positive work environment filled with happy workers.  If the cost is an issue, keep in mind that investing in a better work environment for your employees will pay off in the long run.

For more professional, ergonomics guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.

Subscribe to our ergonomics blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Kent, Renton, Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland. /

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The Ergonomic Benefits of Using a Vertical Mouse

The Ergonomic Benefits of Using a Vertical Mouse

Ergonomics Benefits of using Vertical Mouse

By Janet DeLapp, MS, CDMS, CPDM, CPE and Matt Copeland, BS, CEOE

“Evidence suggests that about 3% of women and 2% of men will be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome during their lifetime…” – The New York Times

Ergonomics Consultants | Solutions Northwest Inc.Using a mouse causes gripping as well as wrist and arm motion which could be detrimental to your body. However, if you do not want to use a trackball, there are other options.

The Vertical Mouse
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While it may look strange, the vertical mouse is a great alternative for those seeking comfort from an ergonomic mouse. There a number of vertical mice on the market, these are sometimes referred to as a “handshake mouse” because of the way your hand grips the mouse.

Why the Vertical Mouse works

When gripping a vertical mouse, your wrist is rotated more straight up and down as opposed to being flat against the desk. This untwists the bones of the forearm. The gripping and repetitive motions at the wrist, elbow and shoulder still exist. If discontinuing using a mouse is something you don’t want to do, a vertical mouse is a good alternative.

The benefits

  • According to Ergooffice, a vertical mouse will “help your wrist to rest on the ‘bony’ baby finger side, eliminating pressure on the soft tissue of the wrist and engage the larger muscles of the arm rather than leaving all the work to the wrist, which means that the wrist remains in a comfortable and neutral position. Additionally, the forearm to assume an anatomical position of rest that will prevent straining of the muscles.”

In conclusion

Never stop looking for great alternatives to traditional tools. For more ergonomic tips, subscribe, contact one of our Ergonomics Experts today and give us a call at one of our Seattle Washington, Portland, Olympia, or Northern California offices.

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Ergonomics Tips: Health and Safety Risks of Computer Work

Ergonomics Tips: Health and Safety Risks of Computer Work

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

Blog: Health and Safety Risks of Computer Work

“Evidence suggests that about 3% of women and 2% of men will be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome during their lifetime…” – The New York Times 

One may not think a desk job or computer work would have many health risks, but according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), repetitive movements (including mouse or keyboard use), sitting in awkward or uncomfortable positions, or straining the neck to look at a screen that is too high or too low can cause musculoskeletal injuries. Additionally, eye damage is a big health concern due to frequent computer screen usage.

It is important to understand the health and safety risks of computer work and how to avoid and prevent workplace injury.

What are some of the risks?Ergonomics Consultants | Solutions Northwest Inc.

Repetitive movement on the computer can put employees at risk for musculoskeletal issues. Two common musculoskeletal issues workers face are carpal tunnel syndrome and tenosynovitis. Tenosynovitis is an “inflammation of the nerve and muscle sheaths where tendons on the fingers pass through. A person with tenosynovitis will suffer from wrist pain and pain on the back of the hand” as described by medi. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel wrist bones.

In addition to hand and wrist pain, eye damage is a concern for employees that frequently use computers at work (as well as employees that use smart phones or tablets). Too much screen time can cause many eye-related symptoms such as discomfort, eyestrain, blurred vision, dry eyes, headache, fatigue, difficulty focusing, and shoulder and neck pain

What can you do to avoid workplace injuries?

Knowing the risks of computer jobs is just half the battle, it is also important to educate yourself and your co-workers on how to avoid work related injuries.

The easiest thing you can do is take a break. Rest is important when doing a repetitive job. Step away from the computer and visit the water cooler, grab a coffee, go eat lunch outside in the sun, or just restock the printer with some new paper.

Take a look at our ergonomics blog to learn easy stretches for your back, neck, or hands. Learn some desk exercises you can do while at your workstation to keep your body strong and take your mind off work.

Additionally, you may want to consider requesting that your office administrator or human resources manager order special peripherals such as a trackball mouse or ergonomic keyboard.

OSHA suggests “adapting tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker to help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).”

Be sure your office consults with ergonomics experts to provide a safe work environment and check out Ergonomics Blog for some quick tips.


In conclusion

As long as you remain proactive about your health at work, you should be able to avoid many workplace injuries. If you do suffer from an injury, be sure to always consult with your doctor first.

Hopefully these ergonomics tips can help keep your workplace a safe work place. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

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Ergonomics Tips: Work Safe While Pregnant

Ergonomics Tips: Work Safe While Pregnant

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

Ergonomics Tips: Work Safe While Pregnant

“About 75 percent of women in the workforce are of reproductive age, and more than half of new mothers are employed.” Workcare

While pregnancy is generally a joyful time, it can impact your safety outlook in the workplace. Considering that “more than half of new mothers are employed” according to Workcare, it is important to discuss any possible job hazards with your employer and educate yourself on what hazards to look out for and how to avoid workplace injury.

There are many temporary adjustments and additional precautions workers can take to stay safe when working while pregnant.

What are some of the workplace hazards to look out for?

As with all safety issues, it is important to always speak with your doctor. Additionally, you should never hesitate to speak to your workplace administrator or human resources department for assistance specific to your job tasks.

In general, occupational hazards and limits are set for non-pregnant workers and what is safe for you may not be safe for your unborn child. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers some examples to consider:

  • “Changes in your metabolism increase how quickly you absorb some chemicals (e.g. some metals).
  • Because of physical changes, the personal protective equipment that you could wear correctly before pregnancy may not fit properly, such as lab coats or respirators.
  • When pregnant, changes in your immune system, lung capacity, and even ligaments can alter your risk of injury or illness due to some workplace hazards.
  • A fetus might be more vulnerable to some chemicals because of its rapid growth and development, particularly early in pregnancy when its organs are developing.”
  • During pregnancy, women experience fluid retention, which may cause vulnerability to De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath that surrounds the tendon, especially if a repetitive job is involved. Outside of the workplace, new mothers experience wrist and thumb pain from lifting their baby or holding their baby’s head during feeding.

Additionally, the CDC.gov website provides job specific examples at: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/repro/pregnancyJob.html.

It is also recommended that employers perform a worksite-specific evaluation of hazards and contact an ergonomics specialist for an ergonomics assessment.

What can you do to avoid injury?Ergonomics Consultants | Solutions Northwest Inc.

Aside from getting plenty of rest and not overworking, communication with your employer is key. It is important to communicate with your employer and learn more about their safety protocols as well as your safety options as a worker.

Once you notify your employer, they should be trained to provide accommodations for you and be open to providing any additional, reasonable accommodations needed.

Additionally, it may be necessary to contact an ergonomics expert to ensure that your workstation (for example, a computer desk) is properly adjusted to your needs.

Be sure to know your rights

According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “if the employee can no longer perform the essential functions of their position, and there are no other reasonable accommodations available, reassignment to an open position, or if no open positions, a leave of absence, may be the only potential reasonable accommodations possible. However, it is important to be aware, an employee may not be forced to take a different position or a leave of absence as a reasonable accommodation, if there are other reasonable accommodations available.”

SolutionsNW.com recommends that pregnant workers visit https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/pregnant_workers.cfm to review their legal rights in the US.

In conclusion

Due to several workplace protections set in place for pregnant workers, you should have a positive experience. If you are the workplace admin or work in the human resources department, be sure that your workplace is properly prepared for pregnant employees by knowing the laws listed by the ADA, the CDC, and OSHA.

It is also a good idea to have experts on standby, for example, for any ergonomics issues you may encounter, you can contact an ergonomics specialist to assess your workplace and ensure your workstations are flexible for a variety of workers.

Hopefully these ergonomics tips can help keep your workplace a safe work place. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.

Subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

 

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Ergonomics Tips: Computer Glasses for Office Workers

Ergonomics Tips: Computer Glasses for Office Workers

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)Ergonomics Tips: Computer Glasses for Office Work“Americans (aged 16-44) spend 7.4 hours staring at screens every day.”Internet Trends report

You may have never heard computer glasses, but with so many jobs requiring workers to stare at screens, products like computer glasses have started to gain interest among office workers and in industries that require a lot of screen time.  Jobs that require a lot of computer, tablet, or phone screen time may cause workers to experience eyestrain or eye fatigue, which is often associated with headaches, neck or back pain, sensitivity to light, dry or red eyes.

With digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome being so common in today’s work place, should you or your employees consider using computer glasses?
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What are computer glasses?

Computer glasses look just like regular glasses and are usually around the $50 to $100 price range.

Unlike regular glasses, computer glasses are designed specifically to reduce eye strain associated with staring at a screen. Computer glasses are made with an anti-reflective coating to reduce screen glare and harsh light. Most of these glasses will also filter the blue light that your computer screen emits. Filtering blue light should reduce negative symptoms of staring at a screen.

Potential benefits of computer glasses

Computer glasses should make it easier to do your daily computer work. Feeling headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision, dry eyes, or even neck and shoulder pain can be reduced. In fact, your posture may improve as well because you won’t have to hunch closer to the screen as much.

What if computer glasses aren’t for you?

If you try computer glasses and don’t notice any benefit, then you may want to consider doing some eye exercises instead. Eyes can be exercised to increase strength of focusing and convergence ability, build stamina, and enable you to change focus faster. Check out these 4 Simple Eye Exercises you can do at work: http://www.solutionsnw.com/2017/04/29/4-eye-exercises-rest-eyes-work/

Additionally, you can try adjusting your screen to a more comfortable setting or just taking frequent breaks at work.

In conclusion

Remember to always consult with your doctor to rule out a possible underlying cause of pain. Whether you decide to try computer glasses or do eye exercises, remain proactive to prevent workplace injuries.

Hopefully these ergonomics tips can help you avoid digital eye strain and any other negative effects that staring at a screen may cause. Be sure to share these tips with the rest office workers or employees. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

 

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Kinesis Freestyle Pro Keyboard Review

Kinesis Freestyle Pro Keyboard Review

By Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager at Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Kent, Renton, Seattle, and Tacoma Washington, California, and Oregon.

I’m a fan of the Kinesis Freestyle2 ergonomic keyboard, so when the new Kinesis Freestyle Pro mechanical/programmable ergonomic keyboard came out, I tested it out. In addition to having all the features of the Freestyle2, the Kinesis Freestyle Pro is fully on-board programmable and has low-force tactile Cherry MX brown mechanical key switches. Low force means that there is less force required to type. A tactile response reduces impact to the tips of the fingers.

One cool thing about the Pro is that while the basic configuration has 12″ of cable separating between the two sides of the keyboard, this can be adjusted. The cable compartment cover on the back of the left side can be removed, and additional length of cable can be pulled out up to 20″. Pictures of this are below.

Although they look similar, the VIP3 and V3 tenting accessories for the Freestyle2 do not fit the Pro. The VIP3 Pro (includes palm supports) and V3 Pro (does not include palm supports) are made for the Pro. They attach to the keyboard easily when following the included instructions. The tent setting adjustments are 5, 10, and 15 degrees on both the VIP3 Pro and V3 Pro. The VIP3 Pro is shown below with the different tenting angles. The V3 Pro accessory looks exactly the same, except it does not have the palm supports.

 

5 degrees of tenting

10 degrees of tenting

15 degrees of tenting

Hot keys on the Pro are desktop, last app, select all, undo, cut, delete, and copy & paste. Hot keys reduce mouse clicks as well as other repetitive and awkward movement of the hands.

When a split programmable ergonomic keyboard is needed, the Kinesis Freestyle Pro is a good choice.

For more ergonomics tips, visit SolutionsNW.com and subscribe to our blog.

SolutionsNW.com  provides work place and ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., an ergonomics assessment provider located in Seattle, Kent, Renton, Tacoma, Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

Freestyle Pro (PC & Mac)Mechanical / Programmable

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