Ergonomic Computer Workstation Setup

By Ryan Fogel,

Prolonged and repetitive work at your computer workstation, poor posture, lack of proper equipment and incorrect ergonomic information are all contributing factors to an improper computer setup which can lead to computer-related injuries. Computer-related injuries cover a wide variety of injuries and health problems caused by or exacerbated by computer usage. Many computer-related injuries can prevented by simply setting up an ergonomic computer workstation.

In setting up your ergonomic computer workstation, the goal is to set it up so you will be able to reach your entire work area (including your phone, computer keyboard, computer mouse, frequently used office supplies, etc.) without having to strain or twist your body. Today, numerous Universities like Cornell, Stanford, UC Davis, University of Virginia, UCLA and others have done intense studies highlighting the benefit of ergonomic computer workstations and the dangers to workers’ health arising by not following certain guidelines.

General Guidelines on Setting up an Ergonomic Computer Workstation

The following are general guidelines based on this research on how to set up an ergonomic computer workstation at the office or at home:

  1. The chair is key to an ergonomic computer workstation because sitting, in an office chair or in general, is a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs, and in particular, can add large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs. That is why it is important to use a good chair with a dynamic chair back that supports your lumbar region and adjust the height so your feet are flat on the floor. This keeps the knees and torso at roughly the same height. To find this height, stand by the chair and raise or lower the seat pan to just below your elbows bent between 90 and 110 degrees to promote good low back health.
  2. Adjust the chair armrests so that your shoulders are relaxed and your elbow bends at around a 90 degree angle. Use of an armrest on your office chair is important to take some of the strain off your upper spine and shoulders, and it should make you less likely to slouch forward in your chair. However, if your armrests are in the way, remove them temporarily.
  3. Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a stable footrest to help reduce strain on back and neck muscles.
  4. The top of monitor casing should be 2-3″ (5-8 cm) above eye level and centered directly in front of your face (preferably no more than 35 degrees to either side). If you wear bifocals, lower the monitor to a comfortable reading level. This helps reduce the risk of eye strain and awkward positions.
  5. To determine the proper distance for your monitor, sit back and extend your arm. The tips of your middle finger should land on your screen – between 20 and 40 inches (50 and 100 centimeters) from your face. Laptop users may want to consider height adjustable laptop stand, which can accommodate a variety of workers and work postures.
  6. Make sure there is no glare on screen. If necessary, place screen at right angles to windows, adjust curtains or blinds or use an optical glass anti-glare filter. Don’t forget to adjust the vertical screen angle and screen controls to minimize glare from overhead lights.
  7. Use an inline copy stand to position source documents directly in front of you, between the monitor and the keyboard. If there is insufficient space, place source documents on a document holder positioned adjacent to the monitor.
  8. When using a keyboard/mouse/input device, your wrists should flat and straight in relation to forearms. You can also alternate left and right-sided mouse usage to reduce the effects of repetitive use.
  9. Position your keyboard about 1 to 2 inches above your thighs and in a place where your arms and elbows are relaxed and close to body. This way, you are not extending your arms too far forward or bending your elbows too far back to type. To reach the keyboard, your forearms should bend no more than 20 degrees above horizontal (if sitting) or 45 degrees below (if standing).
  10. Center the keyboard in front of you, so you are not reaching to one side or another to type. And, position the mouse near the keyboard, so it is easy to transition from typing to mousing. Ideally, your keyboard and mouse should be shoulder-distance apart and as level as possible.
  11. Use a negative tilt keyboard tray with an upper mouse platform or downward tiltable platform adjacent to keyboard, so that your arms and hand follow the downward slope of your thighs.
  12. Use a stable work surface and stable (no bounce) keyboard tray.
  13. Place your telephone within easy reach. Telephone stands or arms can help. Use a headset or speaker phone to eliminate the awkward posture of cradling the handset.

Setting an Ergonomic Computer Workstation Alone is Not Enough to Prevent Injuries

Setting up an ergonomic computer workstation is not enough to assure the reduction of computer related injuries. You also need to take frequent short breaks (microbreaks) at least once every hour to give your eyes and muscles a break. This helps prevent eye strain and muscle fatigue. Take time to stand up, stretch and move around. Get up and get a glass of water, get some office supplies you need from the cabinet or make a phone call. Try to stand as much as possible when on the phone to help stretch out your muscles and vary your posture. Frequent microbreaks are as important to your health as any other part of an ergonomic computer workstation because they keep you awake, productive and healthy and keep you from developing Deep Vein Thrombosis and other conditions arising from not varying your posture often enough.

This OSHA Ergonomic Solutions checklist can help you create an ergonomic computer workstation. If you have questions or need further assistance in setting up your ergonomic computer workstation, call Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants at (323) 930-6599

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Avoiding a Mouse-related Musculoskeletal Injury

By Ryan Fogel,

Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) is a kind of catch all phrase for many conditions, including:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tenosynovitis / DeQuervain’s Syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Chronic Sprain / Strain

Repetitive Stress Injuries occur from repetitive movements involving a specific set of muscles and joints. Mechanical Onset RSI (MORSI), also known as mouse arm disease (MAD), is a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury that affects millions of people around the world and costs employers and insurers billions of dollars. As we spend increasing amounts of time at our computer workstations, we need to be aware of how the design and arrangement of our equipment can impact our chances of acquiring a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.

How Do I Avoid a Mouse-Related Musculoskeletal Injury?

The feature photo above is an excellent example of how NOT to use your mouse. The following tips should help you avoid a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury. These same posture principles apply to other input devices (e.g., trackball, touchpad, pen, digitizing puck etc.). Postural variation is a key factor for good ergonomics. Try to regularly vary your posture when you work with a mouse, and in this way you will help to minimize the risk of ergonomic problems. Remember, the best ergonomic mice are designed to allow you to vary your posture while working with the mouse.

  1. Mouse GripHold the mouse gently when moving it over a mousing surface. Cup your hand over the mouse, almost floating, without allowing the mouse to support the weight of your arm. Gripping the mouse tightly will strain the muscles in your arm and hand, which could lead to a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury. Frequent breaks should also be taken and arms stretched to boost circulation and re-oxygenate the hand and finger muscles.
  2. Mouse from the Elbow – The human wrist was not designed for a computer mouse. Operating a mouse is awkward and becomes uncomfortable, because the wrist is turned up to 90 degrees from its most comfortable natural resting position. Any bending of the wrist, either to the side or up and down, can lead to tendon damage or other mouse-related musculoskeletal injury. To help avoid a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury, make controlled mouse movements with the entire lower arm, using your elbow as the pivot point and keep your wrist straight and neutral.
  3. Optimal Mouse Position – The most up-to-date studies show that a slightly reclined sitting posture with the hips flexed at 100 to 115 degrees is ideal if you have to sit at a desk. So, sit back in your chair, relax your arms then lift your mousing hand up, pivoting at the elbow, until your hand is just above elbow level. Your mouse should be positioned somewhere around this point. Don’t use a mouse by stretching to the desk or out to the side of a keyboard. This stresses your back by reducing the angle of your hips and increases your chance of getting a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.
  4. Protect Your Wrist – Your wrists should never be in direct contact with any surface, including wrist rests and mouse pads. Instead, use the base of your palms to support the weight of your hands and arms in between mousing and typing to keep pressure off the sensitive carpal tunnel area in the wrist. This will help reduce the risk of a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.
  5. Avoid Restricting Circulation – Blood circulation is responsible for the action that moves nutrients, gases and wastes to and from cells, and helps stabilize body temperature and pH to maintain harmony. When blood vessels constrict, blood does not flow properly. Many people have exposed blood vessels near the skin at the wrist, where the pulse is often taken. Any pressure in this region will disrupt circulation into the hand and this will cause constriction in those blood vessels, which can cause hands and fingertips in the mouse hand to become cold. This can lead to a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis, Raynaud’s, DeQuervain’s, or Tendonitis.
  6. Don’t Use a Wrist Rest – Don’t use wrist rests or splints while typing, experts warn. Research has shown that using a wrist rest doubles the pressure inside the carpal tunnel. According to Professor Alan Hedge, Cornel University, the floor of the tunnel is a more flexible ligament that transmits external pressure changes directly into the carpal tunnel. Are you already suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)? One way to find out is by performing a test called “Tinel’s sign”, which simply involves tapping on the palmar surface of the wrist, which is enough to cause tingling and numbness in someone developing CTS.
  7. Avoid Restricting Arm Movement – With a softly padded wrist rest, especially one that is rounded, or a soft chair arm rest the forearm becomes “locked” into position. Mouse movements should be made using the elbow as the pivot point, not the wrist. Too much wrist movement increases intracarpal pressure, leading to a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.
  8. Mouse Shape – Choose a mouse design that fits your hand, but is as flat as possible to reduce wrist extension. Don’t use a curved mouse. Use a larger, symmetrically shaped mouse, such as the Whale mouse or the Perfit mouse, which encourage arm rather than wrist movements or that encourage postural variety and one or two-handed use. Pen-based mice designs also allow a more comfortable grip. Some types of mouse palm support can be attached to the mouse, such as the Mouse Bean.
  9. Load sharing – If you want to load share between your right and left hands, using the mouse for some of the time with each hand, you need to choose a mouse platform that can easily be configured to the left and/or right and a symmetrical shaped mouse that can be used by either hand.

Other Input Devices

Whether you choose a different mouse design, trackball, joystick, pen, touchpad, multitouch pad, or some other input device, make sure that you position it comfortably and that your wrist stays in a neutral position when using the device to avoid a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.

How to Position Your Mouse in Your Workspace

Right-handed and left-handed mouse users should position a flat mouse platform, 1-2″ above the keyboard and over the numeric keypad – you can easily move it out of the way if you need to access these keys. With a downward sloping mouse platform, position this close to the side of the keyboard so that you can use the mouse in a neutral wrist position. However, if you are left-handed and have a right-handed keyboard, with the numeric keypad on the right, your best bet would be to use an angle-adjustable mouse platform placed immediately to the left side of the keyboard, and position it so that your left wrist is neutral. Mouse platforms are commercially available. If you require assistance choosing a mouse platform, please call Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants.

Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants not only provides ergonomic evaluations and ergonomic consulting, we also can help you get set up with the ergonomic equipment you need to prevent costly injuries in the workplace. See our Ergonomic Equipment page for more information on how we can help you make appropriate ergonomic selections for your workplace. We have relationships with many manufacturers and will recommend the best options regarding ergonomic equipment on the market.

Call 323.930.6599 or
Contact us online

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10 Steps to Improve Ergonomic Working Arrangement

By Ryan Fogel,

Creating a good ergonomic working arrangement is important to protecting your health. The following 10 steps are a brief summary of those things that most Ergonomists agree are important. If you follow the 10 steps they should help you to improve your working arrangement.

How will the computer be used?
  • Who will be using the computer? – If the computer will only be used by one person then the arrangement can be optimized for that person’s size and shape, and features such as an adjustable height chair may be unnecessary. If it’s going to be used by several people, you will need to create an arrangement that most closely satisfies the needs of the extremes, that is the smallest and tallest, thinnest and broadest persons, as well as those in between these extremes.
  • How long will people be using the computer? If it’s a few minutes a day then ergonomic issues may not be a high priority. If it’s more than 1 hour per day it is advisable that you create an ergonomic arrangement. If it’s more than 4 hours then you should immediately implement an ergonomic arrangement.
What kind of computer will be used?
  • Desktops – most ergonomic guidelines for computer workstation arrangements assume that you will be using a desktop system where the computer screen is separate from the keyboard.
  • Laptop computers are growing in popularity and are great for short periods of computer work. Guidelines for laptop use are more difficult because laptop design inherently is problematic – when the screen is at a comfortable height and distance the keyboard isn’t and vice versa. For sustained use you should consider purchasing either:
  • an external monitor
  • an external keyboard
  • laptop riser
What furniture will you use?
Make sure that the computer (monitor, CPU system unit, keyboard, mouse) are placed on a stable working surface (nothing that wobbles) with adequate room for proper arrangement. If this work surface is going to be used for writing on paper as well as computer use a flat surface that is between 28″-30″ above the floor (suitable for most adults). You should consider attaching a keyboard/mouse tray system to your work surface. Choose a system that is height adjustable, that allows you to tilt the keyboard down away from you slightly for better wrist posture (negative tilt) and that allows you to use the mouse with your upper arms relaxed and as close to the body as possible and with your wrist in a comfortable and neutral position.
What chair will be used?
Choose a comfortable chair for the user to sit in. If only one person is using this the chair can even be at a fixed height providing that it is comfortable to sit on and has a good backrest that provides lumbar support. If more than one person will be using the computer, consider buying and a chair with several ergonomic features. Studies show that the best seated posture is a reclined posture of 100-110 degrees NOT the upright 90 degree posture that is often portrayed. In the recommended posture, the chair starts to work for the body and there are significant decreases in postural muscle activity and in intervertebral disc pressure in the lumbar spine. Erect sitting is NOT relaxed, sustainable sitting, reclined sitting is.

Chair armrests – Having armrests on a chair can be helpful to aid getting into and getting out of the chair. Also, the armrests can be useful for the occasional resting of the arms (e.g., when on the phone, sitting back relaxing). However, it is not a good idea to permanently wrest the forearms on armrests while you are typing or mousing because this can compress the flexor muscles and some armrest can also compress the ulnar never at the elbow. Ideally, it should be easy to get the armrests out of the way when you need to have free access to the keyboard and mouse. These days most office chairs have armrests and many of them have adjustable height armrests, so look for a chair that is a comfortable fit to you and that has broader, flatter, padded armrests that you can easily move out of the way if needed is the best approach. If you are able to occasionally rest your hands on the keyboard on a palm rest and if you have a comfortable chair that does not have any armrests then this is also quite acceptable.

What kind of work will the computer be used for?
Try to anticipate what type of software will be used most often.

  • Word processing – arranging the best keyboard/mouse position is high priority.
  • Surfing the net, graphic design – arranging the best mouse position is high priority.
  • Data entry– arranging the best numeric keypad/keyboard is a high priority.
  • Games – arranging the best keyboard/mouse/game pad is a high priority.
What can you see?
Make sure that any paper documents that you are reading are placed as close to the computer monitor as possible and that these are at a similar angleuse a document holder where possible

The computer monitor should be placed:

  • Directly in front of you and facing you, not angled to the left or right. This helps to eliminate too much neck twisting. Also, whatever the user is working with, encourage him/her to use the screen scroll bars to ensure that what is being viewed most is in the center of the monitor rather than at the top or bottom of the screen.
  • Center the monitor on the user so that the body and/or neck isn’t twisted when looking at the screen. However, if you are working with a large monitor and spend most of your time working with software like MSWord, which defaults to creating left aligned new pages, and you don’t want to have to drag these to more central locations, try aligning yourself to a point about 1/3rd of the distance across the monitor from the left side.
  • Put the monitor at a comfortable height that doesn’t make the user tilt their head up to see it or bend their neck down to see it. When you are seated comfortably, a user’s eyes should be in line with a point on the screen about 2-3″ below the top of the monitor casing (not the screen). Sit back in your chair at an angle of around 100-110 degrees (i.e., slight recline) and hold your right arm out horizontally, your middle finger should almost touch the center of the screen. From that starting position you can then make minor changes to screen height and angle to suit. Research shows the center of the monitor should be about 17-18 degrees below horizontal for optimal viewing, and this is where it will be if you follow the simple arm extension/finger pointing tip. You actually see more visual field below the horizon than above this (look down a corridor and you’ll see more of the floor than the ceiling), so at this position the user should comfortably be able to see more of the screen. If the monitor is too low, you will crane their neck forwards, if it’s too high you’ll tilt their head backwards and end up with neck/shoulder pain.
  • Bifocals and progressive lens – even if you wear bifocals or progressive lens, if you sit back in your chair in a reclined posture (with you back at around 110 degrees) that is recommended for good low back health, rather than sitting erect at 90 degrees, and if you slightly tilt the monitor backwards and place this at a comfortable height you should be able to see the screen without tilting your head back or craning your neck forwards. Postural problems with bifocals can occur if you sit erect or even hunched forwards. The problem with low monitors is that they cause neck flexion and suffer more from glare. Recent studies have shown that the best position for a computer monitor is for the center of the screen to be at around 17.5 degrees below eye level. Try to align your eyes with the top of the viewing area of the screen, and this should put the center about right geometrically.
  • Biewing distance – the monitor should be at a comfortable horizontal distance for viewing, which usually is around an arms length (sit back in your chair and raise your arm and your fingers should touch the screen). At this distance you should be able to see the viewing area of the monitor without making head movements. If text looks too small then either use a larger font or magnify the screen image in the software rather than sitting closer to the monitor.
  • Screen quality – use a good quality computer screen. Make sure that the text characters on your screen look sharp, and that they are a comfortable size (you can change the screen resolution to find a comfortable and clear character size). If you can see the screen flickering out of the corner of your eye you should try increasing the refresh rate of your monitor (with a PC you can change monitor resolution and refresh rates using the Monitor control panel in your Settings folder, with a Mac you can use the Monitor control panel). You can also consider using a good quality glass anti-glare filter or an LCD display (like a laptop screen).
  • Eye checkup – there are natural changes in vision that occur in most people during their early 40′s. It’s a good idea to periodically have your eyes checked by a qualified professional.
  • If any screen adjustments feel uncomfortable then change them until the arrangement feels more comfortable or seek further professional help.
  • Use a document holder that can be comfortably seen:
    • Use an in-line document holder that sits between the keyboard/keyboard tray and screen and is aligned with your body midline so that all you have to do is look down to see the documents and raise your eyes to see the screen.
    • Use a screen-mounted document holder and position this to the side of your screen that is your dominant eye
    • Use a freestanding document holder and position this next to the side of the screen and slightly angle it so that it follows a curve from the side of the screen.
Posture, posture posture!
Good posture is the basis of good workstation ergonomics. Good posture is the best way to avoid a computer-related injury. To ensure good user posture:

  • Watch the user’s posture!
    • Make sure that the user can reach the keyboard keys with their wrists as flat as possible (not bent up or down) and straight (not bent left or right).
    • Make sure that the user’s elbow angle (the angle between the inner surface of the upper arm and the forearm) is at or greater than 90 degrees to avoid nerve compression at the elbow.
    • Make sure that the upper arm and elbow are as close to the body and as relaxed as possible for mouse use – avoid overreaching. Also make sure that the wrist is as straight as possible when the mouse is being used.
    • Make sure the user sits back in the chair and has good back support. Also check that the feet can be placed flat on the floor or on a footrest.
    • Make sure the head and neck are as straight as possible .
    • Make sure the posture feels relaxed for the user.
Keep it close!
  • Make sure that those things the user uses most frequently are placed closest to the user so that they can be conveniently and comfortably reached.
  • Make sure that the user is centered on the alphanumeric keyboard. Most modern keyboards are asymmetrical in design (the alphanumeric keyboard is to the left and a numeric keypad to the right). If the outer edges of the keyboard are used as landmarks for centering the keyboard and monitor, the users hands will be deviated because the alphanumeric keys will be to the left of the user’s midline. Move the keyboard so that the center of the alphanumeric keys (the B key, is centered on the mid-line of the user).
  • make sure that the phone is also close to you if you frequently use it.

A good workstation ergonomic arrangement will allow any computer user to work in a neutral, relaxed, ideal typing posture that will minimize the risk of developing any injury. An ideal keyboard arrangement is to place this on a height adjustable negative-tilt tray. An ideal mouse arrangement is for this to be on a flat surface that’s 1-2″ above the keyboard and moveable over the numeric keypad. If you want a surface at the level of the keyboard base then make sure that this can also be angled downwards slightly to help to keep your hands in wrist neutral while you are mousing, and keep your elbow is as close to the body as possible while you work.

Where will the computer be used?
Think about the following environmental conditions where the computer will be used:

  • Lighting – make sure that the lighting isn’t too bright. You shouldn’t see any bright light glare on the computer screen. If you do, move the screen, lower the light level, use a good quality, glass anti-glare screen. Also make sure that the computer monitor screen isn’t backed to a bright window or facing a bright window so that there’s the screen looks washed out (use a shade or drapes to control window brightness).
  • Ventilation – make sure that you use your computer somewhere that has adequate fresh-air ventilation and that has adequate heating or cooling so that you feel comfortable when you’re working.
  • Noise – noise can cause stress and that tenses your muscles which can increase injury risks. Try to choose a quiet place for your workstation, and use low volume music, preferably light classical, to mask the hum of any fans or other sound sources.
Take a break!
All Ergonomists agree that it’s a good idea to take frequent, brief rest breaks: Practice the following:

  • Eye breaks – looking at a computer screen for a while causes some changes in how the eyes work, causes you to blink less often, and exposes more of the eye surface to the air. Every 15 minutes you should briefly look away from the screen for a minute or two to a more distant scene, preferably something more that 20 feet away. This lets the muscles inside the eye relax. Also, blink your eyes rapidly for a few seconds. This refreshes the tear film and clears dust from the eye surface.
  • Micro-breaks – most typing is done in bursts rather than continuously. Between these bursts of activity you should rest your hands in a relaxed, flat, straight posture. During a micro-break (< 2minutes) you can briefly stretch, stand up, move around, or do a different work task e.g. make a phone call). A micro-break isn’t necessarily a break from work, but it’s a break from the use of a particular set of muscles that’s doing most of the work (e.g., the finger flexors if you’re doing a lot of typing).
  • Rest breaks – every 30 to 60 minutes you should take a brief rest break. During this break stand up, move around and do something else. Go and get a drink of water, soda, tea, coffee or whatever. This allows you to rest and exercise different muscles and you’ll feel less tired.
  • Exercise breaks – there are many stretching and gentle exercises that you can do to help relieve muscle fatigue. You should do these every 1-2 hours.
  • Ergonomic software – working at a computer can be hypnotic, and often you don’t realize how long you’ve been working and how much you’ve been typing and mousing. You can get excellent ergonomic software that you can install on your computer. The best software will run in the background and it will monitor how much you’ve been using the computer. It will prompt you to take a rest break at appropriate intervals, and it will suggest simple exercises.
For More Information

Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants not only provides ergonomic evaluations and ergonomic consulting, we also can help you get set up with the ergonomic equipment you need to prevent costly injuries in the workplace. See our Ergonomic Equipment page for more information on how we can help you make appropriate ergonomic selections for your workplace. We have relationships with many manufacturers and will recommend the best options regarding ergonomic equipment on the market.

Call 323.930.6599 or
Contact us online

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Ergonomics Assessment, Ergonomics Consulting
  Comments: None


Industrial Injuries

By Ryan Fogel,

An industrial injury is a repetitive or specific work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) or an injury where pain interferes with normal work activities or daily living activities. Industrial injuries can occur suddenly by means of a workplace accident or over time as a result of many factors, including:

Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) can occur when a worker performs a task that uses the same large or small muscles over and over, with little chance for rest or recovery;

Risk factors that increase the chance of RSIs include:

  • Lack of variety in job tasks;
  • The worker not being accustomed to the task, and
  • New workers who have not be sufficiently instructed on how to safely perform the task.

Force/Gripping injuries can occur when:

  • Workers grasp, tools or object that are too large, odd-shaped, vibrating or an awkward shape.
  • When the worker is wearing bulky gloves or the worker’s hands are cold.
  • When workers use a pinch grip to grasp small objects.

Hand and wrist tendons and muscles tire much quicker when workers use a pinch grip rather than a power grip. And much more pressure is exerted on soft tissue, such as muscle, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Over time, these can cause debilitating industrial injuries.

Awkward Posture/Kneeling injuries can occur when any joint of a worker’s body bends or twists excessively, outside a comfortable range of motion. This puts stress on muscles, tendons and joints.

Static Posture injuries can occur when an awkward posture is held for a long time, causing muscle fatigue, because:

  • Fatigued muscles ache because of a lack of circulation from holding a static posture for too long.
  • Fatigued muscles can lead to increased discomfort, spasms and even injury.

Local Contact Stress occurs when:

  • A hard or sharp object comes in contact with the skin.
  • A worker strikes objects sharply with the hand, foot, knee or other body part.

Local contact stress can irritate soft tissue and interfere with circulation and nerve function, especially when:

  • The hard object comes into contact with an area with little protective tissue, such as the wrist, palm, or fingers.
  • When the pressure is applied repeatedly or over a long period of time.

Vibration exposure can occur:

  • While using power tools in multiple occupations and settings, (e.g., automotive repair shops, construction work, engineering, dental care, etc.)
  • When hands are exposed to very high frequency vibrations, such as dental technicians and dentists.
  • The whole body being exposed to vibrations such as shocks, jolts, lateral sway and vertical bouncing, while driving equipment.

Vibration from power tools can place stress on the tissues of the fingers, hand and arms, which can cause such conditions as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), arthritis or tendonitis. It can also cause changes in muscle fibers, which can result in impaired grip force, reduced mobility and pain in the hand and arm. Whole body vibration (WBV) from driving puts stress on the feet, buttocks and spinal tissues, which can cause cumulative trauma, repetitive stress injuries, chronic wear and even sudden shock syndrome injuries.

What is an Ergonomic Injury?

Industrial injuries caused by ergonomic hazards are also known as ergonomic injuries. Ergonomic injuries are very commonplace now because industries require increasingly higher rates of production, which can result in such ergonomic hazards as:

  • Workers frequently lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling loads unassisted by fellow workers or devices;
  • Increasing specialization that require workers to perform repetitious functions or movements over extended periods of time, day after day;
  • Workers being required to work more than 8 hours a day, which leads to fatigue;
  • Workers being required to work quicker on fast assembly lines; and
  • Workers having to handle tools or objects requiring a pinch grip or excessive force.

Preventing Ergonomic Risks that Lead to Industrial Injuries

The likelihood of developing industrial injuries is dependent on the frequency and duration of exposure to ergonomic risk factors. The following are a few common ergonomic injuries and simple remedies that can reduce or eliminate them:

Injury Simple Remedy
Neck Pain Electronic telephone head set, upright document holder.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) Special keyboard, voice activation software.
Chronic Pain Implement rest or stretch breaks, alternative task assignment.
Awkward Position/Kneeling Changing workstation layouts to minimize twisting, raising or lowering work surfaces and storage spaces to minimize reaching, bending and kneeling, providing proper seating for low level or kneeling work and providing knee pads for workers that need to kneel.
Repetitive Stress Injuries Eliminating excessive force and awkward positions, providing safe and effective job procedures, allowing workers to rotate between workstations and tasks (job rotation).
Putting remedies in place alone will not reduce the risk of industrial injuries. Workers will also require proper training on how to perform their job duties safely and ergonomically.

Ergonomic Consulting Services in Los Angeles

An employer needs to take into consideration all aspects and areas of the workplace in order to develop a practical approach of proactive planning and assessment to reduce and eliminate industrial injuries. Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants can help. We employ a four-phase process of pairing low-cost, high-impact solutions to real problems.

To help reduce industrial injuries, Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants provides such ergonomic consulting services as:

Call Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants at 323.930.6599 or contact us online for more information on how our services can greatly reduce industrial injuries and increase workplace morale.

Resource: What is an industrial injury?

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury, Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Industrial Injuries
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