For overall health and safety it's important to make sure your environment fits your needs instead of trying to fit yourself into a user unfriendly environment. To help prevent back injury and reduce or eliminate back pain we need to strive for frequently alternating positions and symmetry of motions.
We've all had little annoyances like a table being too short causing us to stoop or an item we use every day being too heavy or awkward to handle or control. The truth is that these "annoyances" which are bad ergonomics over a period of time are a big reason behind why we experience back pain and end up injuring our back. Repetitive motions alone are not cause for alarm, however repetitive motions which are done incorrectly or with poor ergonomics is a leading cause of back pain and injury, sometimes with long lasting effects.
The cost of an ergonomically correct workplace is a small price to pay for the comfort, productivity, health and safety of the worker. Many companies however do not like to pay for ergonomics and they do what they can(while spending millions) to defeat any ergonomics laws which might be enacted. The fact is many companies don't care about their very own workers, so you have to care for and about yourself. If you need something ergonomically changed see to it that it gets done, even if you have to do it yourself.
Your body needs to be used as symmetrically as possible, if not then some muscles will be stretched and some will not be. This will cause an unbalanced posture and can lead to back pain troubles and other problems. For example, if your workplace is set up in a way that in order to do your tasks you lean mostly in one direction then you should re-arrange your work area for more symmetry. If you often lean forward then you need to occasionally bend backwards to keep yourself balanced.
Whether you're at work or at home try to keep ergonomics in mind. It doesn't take a lot of work to have a well designed layout and it will lessen your chances of back pain and injury in both the short and long term. It's like my dad always says: "You have to take care of yourself because nobody's gonna do it for you".
Ergonomic Case Study:
L.L. Bean used OSHA logs, workers' compensation data and videotapes of jobs to analyze ergonomic problems. Once the issues were identified, the company used an ergonomics design team, consisting of an ergonomics specialist, a standards analyst/engineer, an occupational health nurse and a member of the maintenance department to create solutions. The team redesigned several aspects of the company's workstations, concentrating on excess force, angle problems, repetitions, and awkward unsupported postures.
After redesigning several aspects of the company’s workstations, lost-time incidents due to MSDs were reduced by 79% and have remained low in subsequent years.
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