Back to school and work: Ergonomic advice to start the year right

It’s almost possible to hear the collective groans of millions of people in Australia, somewhere in the middle of January, as they lurch away from the beach or pool-side and back to their respective workplaces and schools.

As we all return to business as usual, it’s easy to forget that workplaces and schools can cause us unintended injuries. Pains, strains, neck and back pain and joint pain are some of the most common ailments people suffer.  Thankfully, they are also the most easily treatable.

Costing the Australian economy over $60 billion dollars per year, workplace injuries are more common than you think with over 106,000 workplace injury claims made in 2013-2014.  

Below is a a guide to office ergonomics and workplace safety. The basic rule of thumb is that preventing injury begins with managing your 1. Posture, 2. Activity, 3. Environment.

Workplaces: an ergonomic and injury avoidance checklist  

Posture

  • Switch positions regularly at your desk. Many repetitive strain injuries occur because you’re sitting for too long in the same position.
  • Ensure that your back is supported and that your shoulders are relaxed but not slumped.
  • Ensure that your eye-line is straight when looking at the top third of your computer screen,  and that your neck doesn’t need to angle up or down to view the top part of your computer screen.
  • Keep a neutral position with your forearms and hands in a straight line on the desk while seated.  
  • Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible.
  • Keep your mouse and keyboard close.
  • Get your eyes checked. Generally, if you need to squint to view what’s on the computer screen, you will automatically create an awkward posture for your body.  Over time, this will lead to injury and discomfort..

Activity

  • Take frequent mini-breaks throughout the day and walk around to get the blood moving in your body. Even better, leave the building for a walk.
  • Give your eyes a break regularly by closing them, blinking and looking off into the middle distance.
  • Instead of emailing someone in the office, go over to their desk to ask a question. Not only are you getting more exercise this way, you’re also making your relationship with them more personable.  
  • Avoid doing the same repetitive action, such as moving boxes, bending or reaching, for more than 1 hour at a time.

Environment

  • Eliminate sunny glare from windows. This may cause eye strain and headaches.
  • Adjust the contrast and brightness of your laptop screen if you regularly move around in changing lighting conditions.
  • Employ stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation or breathing techniques to help with stress.
  • Remove all debris and obstructions from the workplace floor that could be a tripping hazard to people.
  • Ensure that stairwells have adequate lighting and signage to avoid trips and falls.
  • Ensure that lighting in your office is adequate and clear. This will help to prevent eye strain.
  • Covered footwear is a normal requirement for most industrial workplaces.
  • Protective clothing and helmets are a normal requirement in many industries as well.
  • A clean and hygienic workplace prevents rodent or insect infestations that could pose a health risk.
  • Machines and power tools should be checked regularly to ensure that they meet safety requirements.

If you have recently had a workplace injury or you suffer from ongoing pain problems at work, you can speak to the friendly team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. The team are experts at identifying, assessing and providing personalised treatment plans for these kinds of injuries.

 

Tips for parents to ease the kids back into school

Here are some tips so that your children have the best chances to learn and give their full attention to the teacher this year.  

1. Sleep is a big priority

Children need a lot more sleep than adults. For a comprehensive guide on sleep for people of all stages of life, read Sleep and Recovery: Five ways that sleep mends your body by the team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy. When children get enough sleep, they have the cognitive power to learn and absorb more throughout the day. Over summer they may have been allowed to stay up later than usual, but make sure you return them to a regular routine.

2. Create a quiet, well-lit area for homework

Ideally homework should be done at a desk or a table. It should not take place near a TV or with easy access to mobile devices. Ensure that the study area is well-lit and has a desk and chair that’s optimised for their physical body. For younger children, parents should decide on the time of day for homework, either before dinner or after dinner, and stick to the routine.

3. Ensure children have enough down-time and play time

Playtime and physical activities are essential for children. It’s essential for them have a balance between sleep, learning, rest and play. That’s the recipe for their ongoing happiness.

At Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, we treat and correct children’s posture along with many other specialities. If your child has a sporting injury or is suffering from neck or back pain, please reach out to us, we are happy to help.

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy strives to keep everyone in the Maroubra community healthy, active and moving. The best medicine is preventative and educational. So make sure you subscribe to this blog via Facebook.

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