Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average of 650,000 work-related musculoskeletal disorders resulting in over $20 billion in costs to employers (e.g. worker’s comp, medical expenses, lost work time, etc.) Melissa White, occupational therapist and owner of Balanced Fitness & Health in Hiawatha, helps office, field and line workers with issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, elbow pain, neck and back pain and more—but she prefers to prevent the injuries from happening.
“It’s exciting to see companies implementing wellness programs proactively,” said White. “However, they may be missing opportunities to protect their employees from injury, which can control healthcare costs and decrease lost work time.”
According to White, awkward positions, long periods of sitting or standing and repeated movements such as typing and assembly line work stress a person’s body. Any of these actions can lead to fatigue, pain and a frustrated employee. She said that more productive workstations—and employees—begin with ergonomics.
“Ergonomic programs have been shown to reduce injury-related costs while improving the safety, morale and productivity of employees,” she said. “We look at the workstation, whatever it is, and find ways to improve it. We fit the workstation to the person instead of fitting the person to the workstation, and these adjustments can be implemented economically.”
White said that computer workers can easily implement the following ergonomic tips:
Starting with the chair, adjust the height to ensure the hips are slightly above the knees.
Keep your monitor at arm’s length to avoid eye fatigue.
Face your body forward. Avoid twisting the neck or trunk.
Following ergonomic assessments, White recommends a stretching program to further educate and protect employees.
“Stretching relieves tension and stress, improves circulation and increases the range of motion and flexibility of joints. It is extremely important to teach employees how to stretch properly and to empower them to be proactive in preventing musculoskeletal strains while they are at work.”
To learn more about how Balanced Fitness & Health works with corporate clients to improve productivity and safety, please visit the Corporate page.