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Ergonomics Assessments for your Workplace

Ergonomics Assessments for your Workplace

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

Ergonomics Assessments for your Workplace

What is an ergonomics assessment for?

An ergonomics assessment (sometimes referred to as workstation assessments) is designed to lower risk of injury and improve employee productivity by ensuring that a worker’s workspace is ergonomically sound. This assessment can be done at multiple locations, from offices to industrial warehouses to in-home work stations.

Whether you are an employer, administrator, or employee, it is vital to ensure that your environment is ergonomically friendly and meets certain standards (for example, standards set by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)).

Below are a few effective assessment models that may benefit your workstation.

Office Ergonomics Onsite Evaluations

Individual office workstation evaluations are completed using an effective ergonomics assessment model and a structured interview process to gather information.

A well-tailored office evaluation model should include:

·         Basic ergonomics education and educational materials to look over

·         Measurements of the space

·         A report with all findings and recommendations should be generated

·         An objective risk factor assessment should be completed

·         A discomfort survey should be administered

·         An option to follow ups when requested

Virtual Ergonomics Evaluations

Evaluations are typically completed onsite, but virtual ergonomics evaluations are also an option. Virtual evaluations can save you money on travel, out-of-pocket costs, and time.

What you should expect from the virtual ergonomics evaluation process:

·         Digital instructions (either e-mailed or made available online)

·         Assessment via telephone for real-time communication

·         E-mailing photos and measurements to your consultant

·         Employee contact by telephone for the assessment

·         A generated report that is no different than an onsite report

·         Options for follow up discussion when requested

Office Ergonomics Mini Assessments

Mini assessments are short assessments that generally take about 20-30 minutes each. They are conducted at the person’s work area. This is a good option if you do not need a formal report and need to save time and money. It is recommended employees take the one hour ergonomics training course prior to the mini assessments.

Benefits of Office Ergonomics Mini Assessments:

·         You save money, as 2-3 can be done in an hour

·         You can get workable solutions quicker for your staff

·         There is less disruption in the workplace

·         It takes less time, so there is less impact on productivity

Industrial Evaluations

Evaluations for industrial, manufacturing and other non-office type jobs are designed to determine the frequency, duration and intensity of jobs/tasks that may contribute to, or create, ergonomics risk factors.

Your ergonomics consultant should make use of published and commonly used tools and, where applicable, your consultant must follow state standards and guidelines, to minimize existing ergonomics risk factors.

An ergonomics assessment specialist should use a structured process to identify practical and realistic interventions to solve problems and eliminate ergonomics risks factors through engineering, administrative and/or work practice controls.

The following work spaces would benefit from an industrial evaluation: libraries, fishing and transportation vessels, transportation vehicles (bus, car, truck, rail), educational facilities, municipalities, nursing homes, retail, hotels, school districts, restaurants, semi-conductor industries, manufacturers, hospitals/clinics, logging operations, and more.

In Conclusion

As with any work place systems, it is important to do due diligence in finding an ergonomics consultant that best fits your workstation needs. Be sure to consult the proper experts for assistance and remain proactive about learning and establishing best practices.

For an ergonomics consultation, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more detailed information.

Don’t forget 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.

Thumb and Wrist Pain – De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Thumb and Wrist Pain – De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

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

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
De Quervain’s is more common in women than in men, and almost 50% of new mothers experience this condition. It has a tendency to develop during pregnancy, when fluid may be retained. It may also develop during menopause.” WestChester Magazine

Many workers perform repetitive tasks with their hands at work, which may put them at greater risk for thumb and wrist pain. Furthermore, studies have revealed that women may be more susceptible than men to thumb and wrist pain in the workplace, specifically to De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. De Quervain’s is more common in women than in men, and almost 50% of new mothers experience this condition. It has a tendency to develop during pregnancy, when fluid may be retained. It may also develop during menopause,writes WestChesterMagazine.

What is De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

Tenosynovitis is the inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath which surrounds a tendon and usually leads to joint paint, swelling, or stiffness. De Quervain’s tenosynovitis refers to the condition which affects the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist. According to Mayo Clinic, “it will probably hurt when you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist.”

Causes and symptoms

De Quervain’s may be caused by a variety of work related or personal factors. Common work related factors include repetitive motions with the hands, movement that involves wrist bending, gripping, awkward lifting movement, and twisting. Repetitive tasks at the office, at an assembly line warehouse, or any job that includes twisting screws, using a keyboard or mouse, rapid repetitive hand activities, and even the use of a smart phone may put workers at risk for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

Symptoms include pain at the radial side (the thumb side) of the wrist, spasming, tenderness, burning sensation in the hand, swelling, and difficulty gripping. The pain often increases as you move your thumb and wrist.

Why women more than men?

One reason women are affected more often than men by De Quervain’s tenosynovitis may be due to the changes a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy. During pregnancy, women experience fluid retention, which may cause vulnerability to 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. Other contributing factors may include hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy and menopause.

What should you do if you have thumb and wrist pain?

Speak with your doctor – Always consult with your doctor when experiencing pain. A doctor can provide an x-ray to rule out any serious injuries, such as a fracture.

Rest Allowing plenty of rest time is the best way to treat thumb joint pain, though work obligations may make this difficult. A thumb splint or brace can assist in helping to rest and ease the workload of the hand.

Reduce inflammation – Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or creams that can help with recovery time, as well as provide injections as treatment.

Hand therapy – A hand specialist may offer you special massage treatments, such as ultrasound massage. They may also provide stretches and strengthening exercises.

Asses your workstation’s ergonomics – Contact an ergonomics consultant to ensure that your workstation is properly set up. An ergonomics specialist will evaluate your workstation with the objective to prevent injury or prevent further damage, as well as provide recommendations to optimize your workspace.

In Conclusion

As with any pain or work injury you may experience, be sure to consult your doctor to rule out any serious damage. Remember to remain proactive about your health and continue to seek out new ways to improve your health.

As always, be sure to share these tips with your co-workers or employees and for more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more detailed information.

Don’t forget 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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Surviving Office High Heels 101

Surviving Office High Heels 101

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

Office Heels Pain Workplace

“49% of women wear high heels, even though the majority of heel wearers (71%) complain these shoes hurt their feet.” American Podiatric Medical

Wearing high heels in the workplace may be your fashion style of choice, but it may also be a cause of foot pain. Is the added height, tall posture, and altered gait worth the pain? Is there anything you can do to both enjoy heels and avoid pain? This blog may serve as a survival guide for wearing heels in the workplace.

The physics of high heels

High heels transform the body’s stance and one’s movement due the physics of your body’s center of gravity shifting. Your walk changes as your body tries to keep itself balanced. The engineers at Illumin explain, “When standing in high-heeled shoes, posture changes so that the back is arched, the pelvis and chest are thrust forward, the buttocks stick out, and the calf muscles tighten. The shoe slant causes some muscles of the leg to remain flexed while the added height to the leg gives an illusion of longer legs, both of which are important contributions to the classic heeled shoe stance.

The hip swaying, swift bouncy strides, and prominent stance are all in reaction to a shift in centers of gravity or pressure. The illusion of muscular legs, on the other hand, is a result of positioning of the heel of the foot.”

Avoid pain when wearing high heels
Now that you have a better idea about how heels affect your body, here are some tips to avoid pain at work while wearing heels at the office.

  • Use an adjustable footrest at your desk
    It’s important to make sure your keyboard surface height, chair height, and monitor height are always correct. Set up your workstation as if you are wearing heels and use an adjustable footrest for when you wear flats. This way, you always have a comfortable option available to you.
  • Stretch your feet on your breaks
    Consider doing foot stretches and exercises while at your desk. Watch Solutions Northwest’s video series for ideas on foot exercises you can do while sitting at your desk. https://www.solutionsnw.com/2017/10/07/exercise-desk-foot-exercises/ 
  • Purchase Hybrid Heels
    Be on the lookout for heels which mimic jogging/basketball shoes with pouches of gas for comfort. These are sometimes referred to as comfort heels. This built in comfort works as a stylish alternative to using inserts.

In Conclusion

It’s important to feel confident and comfortable in the workplace, while still being aware of work injury risks. If you are reading this ergonomics blog, you’ve already taken the first step into a healthy and happy work place, which is to always remain proactive about your workplace health.

As always, be sure to share these tips with your co-workers or employees and for more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more detailed information.

Don’t forget 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.

 

Contact our Experts

Learn About Computer Vision Syndrome

Learn About Computer Vision Syndrome

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

Avoid Computer Syndrome at the Office and Workplace

The average American worker spends 7 hours a day on the computer and 58% percent of adults have experienced digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome as a direct result.” (AOA) 2015 American Eye-Q

Whether you work on an office computer or use your smart phone to communicate, screen time is unavoidable for many American workers. In fact, “the average American worker spends 7 hours a day on the computer” (AOA).  As you may expect, too much screen time puts you at risk for eyestrain disorders like computer vision syndrome.

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a term to describe the discomfort or digital eyestrain one may feel after viewing a screen for long periods of time. According to the Mayo Clinic, “CVS is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries you might get at work. It happens because your eyes follow the same path over and over.”  Symptoms include headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision, dry eyes, fatigue, neck and shoulder pain.

Prep your workstation to avoid Computer Vision Syndrome

Now that you have a better idea about what computer vision syndrome is, how can you avoid it if your job requires screen time? Here are some tips our ergonomics experts at SolutionsNW.com have compiled to improve your work station:

  • Eliminate glare on your computer monitor – To reduce screen glare, dim any overly bright lights in the room. However, be sure to keep the room lit enough for reading or writing notes. Using glare reducing monitor overlays or tilting your monitor can sometimes reduce screen glare. It may be necessary to move the monitor and/or work surface to a different location or close the blinds if glare is coming in from the windows.
  • Avoid competing light sources – Make sure your monitor is not directly in front of a window, directly under a bright light, and there are no lights shining directly into your eyes.
  • Consider glasses – If you are having trouble seeing the monitor, it would be a good idea to consult your eye doctor. If you wear bifocals and use a computer regularly, you may want to ask about computer glasses in addition to your regular glasses.
  • Adjust your workstation properly – Your monitor height should ideally be adjustable, although this is not always necessary. The top of the screen should be at eye level for normal vision and reference materials should be as close to the monitor as possible to reduce excessive head and eye movement. If you wear glasses which require you to use the lower portion of the lenses to read the text on the monitor, try lowering the monitor a few inches below eye height.
  • Establish healthy habits – Take breaks from looking at the computer screen and learn how to do eye exercises. 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/

In Conclusion

Remember to remain proactive for a happy and healthy work environment. For some of these tips, you may need to speak to your office administrator or human resources director. Additionally, you may want to consider contacting an ergonomics expert to assess your work environment.

As always, be sure to share these tips with your co-workers or employees and for more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more detailed information.

Don’t forget 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.

Contact our Experts

Exercise at your desk: Inner Thigh Exercises

Exercise at your desk: Inner Thigh Exercises

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Olympia, Seattle, Salem, Portland, Arcata, and more.)

Watch Solutions Northwest Inc.’s Ergonomics Exercises video series:
Exercise at your desk: Inner Thigh Exercises” by clicking on the image above or visiting our YouTube channel.

After watching the video, find more exercises you can do at your desk:

Working out can seem like quite the chore, but our Ergonomics Consultants at Solutions Northwest, have compiled a list of exercises that you’re able to do at work – and better yet, you can do most of these exercises while sitting down on your office chair.

Check out this playlist of exercises that strengthen your core, improve your posture while sitting, and provide enough strength to make it through a sedentary, office workday.

Ergonomics Exercises you can do at your desk Playlist:

Our ergonomics experts have assembled these workouts for you in order to help make your office an injury free work zone.

Be sure to share these tips with your employees, especially if you work in the Human Resources or Office Administration department. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more detailed information.

Don’t forget 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.

Contact our Experts

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