Technology has changed the way we work. Much of that change is beneficial, including the flexibility we now have to work from anywhere, anytime. However, the constant use of mobile devices, often in unconventional settings, can create the potential for ergonomic risks that businesses and employees should consider.
A Sore Topic
The ability to use devices from a variety of different settings can improve productivity and overall worker satisfaction, but it also increases the risk of neck, shoulder, and wrist soreness. The constant use of these devices can also cause a nerve disorder known as carpal tunnel syndrome. It causes pain in the wrists and hands and The American College of Rheumatology says about 10 million Americans suffer from it.
Another potential danger can come from working with a notebook computer balanced on your lap. While this can be convenient for a short computing session, it can also lead to a heat buildup that in turn can cause skin discomfort or, in extreme cases, burns.
To help reduce these risks, business owners can work with risk and safety professionals, who often are available through your insurance company, to identify safer working practices and equipment that lowers injury rates as well as the potential for health and disability claims.
Although the specific recommendations will depend on your workplace and industry practices, some typical recommendations from safety professionals may include:
- Discourage workers from spending too much time huddled over a tablet device that’s sitting on a flat table. This results in a hunched-over position that promotes neck and shoulder soreness.
- If a worker uses a monitor, be sure they can do so without having to raise or lower their heads. Holding your head in one place for extended periods can result in neck strain.
- Pay attention to office and workstation lighting to reduce glare and eyestrain.
- Invest in ergonomic office chairs to improve workplace comfort and productivity. Employees should be able to adjust the height of their chairs and armrests to create the best fit for each team member.
- Telephone headsets are more comfortable than holding a traditional handset for extended periods, and they can reduce neck strain.
- Encourage workers to stand up and move around periodically to reduce strain and stress.
Today’s technology creates excellent opportunities for workers to be more productive while also enjoying the flexibility of working from home or other locations. However, it’s important for businesses and employees to pay attention to the devices we use, and how we use them. Businesses that promote safe working and ergonomic practices will have healthier and happier employees.