When picturing a workplace injury, one usually imagines some heavy piece of machinery going haywire or a rogue brick falling onto some misfortunate person’s head, but this is not often the case. Some studies argue that those who work office related positions are, in fact, at a higher risk of physical harm above other jobs, primarily because your anatomy is not equipped to be shoved into small cubicles, facing one direction, and hardly moving whatsoever. So what can you do? Quit your job and go back to hunting in the wild?
Thankfully, there are easier options. Read through the following five common desk job injuries and educate yourself on what you might be doing wrong, whilst taking the steps provided to avoid these potential setbacks.
1. Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain
It’s no surprise that sitting for a prolonged period of time places an excess of strain on your body, from your muscles, to your joints, to your ligaments. This unnatural stress you force upon your physique for hours on end can lead to a decreased blood flow and ultimately a stiff pain in multiple areas.
Your biggest adversary in these troubled times is your posture, so sit up straight! A footrest can help minimize lower back pains, an eye level screen will prevent you from bending your neck at an unnatural angle, and an adjustable chair can ensure your frame is correctly supported. Furthermore, don’t forget to stretch frequently whilst taking occasional short walks around the office to ward off muscle fatigue and get that blood flowing normally again.
2. Wrist and Hand Pain
It’s called “repetitive stress injuries” for a reason, as the tiny movements of clicking your mouse and typing on your keyboard are a major cause for the swelling of your ligaments, which can develop into a burning sensation and even limit your hands from working properly.
To avoid this, keep your wrists in line with your forearms and your elbows close to your sides. Even better, invest in an ergonomically designed keyboard and mouse, which are built to align your seated stature into a more comfortable position. Rest regularly, stretch your fingers and wrists as often as possible, and research how hand exercise equipment can help preserve your tendons’ elasticity.
Concentrating intently on your monitor for an excessive length of time is well documented to wreak havoc on your eyes. The light exuding from the screen and the motionless gaze at one specific point can often be the root cause for headaches, blurred vision, and even short-sightedness.
As with any desk job, taking breaks is essential, and you should routinely look away from your screen, focusing on something in the distance. Furthermore, don’t sit too close to your computer, and turn your monitor away from any glares. At the same time, ensure your workspace is well lit, allowing you see clearly without having to scrunch your face up just to read your emails. Finally, medical professionals recommend having an eye exam every one to two years, guiding you towards better practices and keeping any prescriptions up to date.
4. Hearing Damage
One of the most neglected workplace injuries is that of loud noises and their detrimental impact on your hearing. The perpetual buzz of telephones, computers, printers, chit-chat, and traffic can slowly erode your inner ear and may eventually lead to considerable hearing loss.
If you are worried your office may be particularly guilty of this harmful clamor, speak to your HR team or boss about making a few changes. Move noisy equipment to a less populated space. Glass windows can dull the outside world’s commotion. Acoustic ceiling tiles and carpeted floors can absorb some of the foot-traffic and general conversational disturbances. And if all else fails, consider purchasing some earplugs to hush all distractions and fully focus your attention on getting the day’s job done.
5. Slips, Trips, and Falls
No matter where you work, the fact of the matter is that slips, trips, and falls are reportedly the most likely workplace accident to happen to anyone. Often these mishaps only result in minor bruises and bumps, but have been known to sprain ankles, break bones, and even cause concussions on multiple occasions, which is why you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Start by clearing the office walkways from clutter, cords, and open drawers. If any liquid gets spilt on the floor, don’t expect someone else to deal with it, and clean it up immediately. Every staircase should be fitted with handrails, and the building’s general lighting should be adequate enough for maneuvering around confidently. And as a rule, always walk rather than run, because no matter how late you are for that important meeting, it’s not worth risking your neck for it.