When a person hears about back injuries in the workplace, they probably think about a construction worker or someone else who has a physical job injuring their back. The truth is that a good portion of workplace back injuries that personal injury compensation lawyers hear about take place in an office setting. Many of them are due to improper positioning or posture while sitting. The following are a few tips that can help you prevent back injuries in an office setting.
1. It’s All about the Body Posture
Body posture is extremely important to avoid back pain at work in a chair. If your workstation is poorly arranged, it could encourage your body to rest in an awkward position. This in turn hinders your breathing, minimizes your circulation, and eventually leads to back injuries that will limit your mobility.
2. Get up and Move around
If you’re going to be sitting for an extended period of time, schedule regular intervals to get up and to move your body around. Doing light stretches or light exercise at regular intervals goes a long way in helping you to maintain mobility, improve circulation, and minimize back injuries.
3. Things to Avoid While Sitting
It takes diligence on your part to make sure that your posture is correct while sitting. Avoid things like tilting your head forward as you sit since this puts additional strain on your neck and back and can lead to injuries. Do not use a chair that does not have lumbar support, especially if you need to sit for hours at a time. Avoid working with your arms raised since this can lead to neck, shoulder, and back injuries. If you work with your wrists bent or you work with unsupported forearms, this puts untold stress on your shoulders and lower back and can result in injury.
If your legs do not fit under your worktable and you need to cram them in, get new worktable. Sitting in this uncomfortable position minimizes blood flow to your legs and to your lower back. The same is true of sitting in a chair that has weak support. It could break or fall over and lead to you injuring yourself.
4. Not Too High, Not Too Low, but Just Right
If you have a chair that’s too high, it throws off your body’s center of balance. Unknowingly, you are constantly adjusting yourself to stay upright, and this leads to fatigue on your core muscles, including your back. Additionally, if your chair is so high that your feet cannot touch the floor, pressure is exerted on your thighs. Back flow blood is inhibited, and problems such as varicose veins and swelling ankles develop.
Sitting in a chair that is too high puts unnecessary pressure on the sciatic nerve, which will not only cause back pain, but can also lead to pain that radiates down your leg. Finally, a chair that is too high does not have the appropriate back support for office chair that you need.
If your chair is too low, it causes your knees to sit high up off the ground. This interrupts the blood circulation in your legs and in your back. It puts pressure on your internal organs, pressure on your buttocks, and can lead to muscle strains, discomfort, and back pain.
These tips not only apply to your chair, but also apply to the worktable you use. If your worktable or desk is too high, you will be forced to sit in a position that will negate any lumbar support you have on your chair. Your spine will be overstretched, and this will lead to injury. In order to work on a high desk, you need to tilt your head forward, and this puts stress on the shoulders, the neck, and the back. Over time, having a workstation that is too high negatively affects your whole body.
5. Finding the Right Chair for You
There are a lot of office chairs that have been designed to promote an ergonomically healthy sitting position. The best chair for lower back pain will depend on your height, your weight, and the type of work you are doing. In general, these chairs are equipped with padding and cushions designed to support the buttocks and the spine. A well-designed chair will take pressure off your muscles and stimulate blood circulation. A well-designed chair will force you to sit with good posture, and this will in turn make you sit with your head, your wrists, and your shoulders at the correct angle while typing.
Preventing Workplace Injuries
There are guidelines that dictate the types of chairs office workers who sit for extended periods of time should have at their disposal. Your employer has the responsibility to see to it that every employee in the office has a safe and healthy work environment. If you are dealing with a back injury that stems from working in a poorly designed or non-ergonomically friendly work environment, you may be due compensation for your injuries. It is best for you to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer.
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Melanie Pinola. 2016. What to Look for in an Ergonomic Office Chair. [ONLINE] Available at:http://lifehacker.com/what-to-look-for-in-an-ergonomic-office-chair-509059932. [Accessed 17 May 2016].