White Collar Workers and RSI
There are thousands of injuries and illnesses caused by work every day. Typically this is perceived to mainly be in industrial jobs and illness such as asbestosis and injuries from heavy machinery. You maybe surprised to hear that office workers are just as much at risk, if not more in some cases.
White collar jobs are believed to be safe as they are inside and no harmful chemicals or heavy machinery are used. This may be true but there are hidden dangers in the office.
Long hours due to a target driven environment can lead to work addiction. This can effect your diet and personal life and thus your health. A good work home life balance should be maintained to avoid ill health which in turn would effect your working life, which must be very important to someone if they become a ‘workaholic’.
Stress can also be caused by working too hard amongst other factors, including pressure from superiors or targets. Bullying in the workplace is also a major problem and will surely cause stress. There are studies showing that people in stressful occupations are 70% more likely to develop heart disease at some point. The stressed have less time and motivation to exercise and eat properly leading to further health problems.
There are hazards in the office that need to be watched out for. Increases in slips, trips and fall injuries are being reported. You should watch out for cords and cables. These should be neatly concealed and never cross walk ways. Be careful to close draws and cabinets plus keep bags tucked away. You should clean up any spills no matter how small, especially on hard floors. Although your employer has a duty to make your working environment safe you also have to do your part.
The office may not be a building site but there is still plenty of lifting that goes on. To avoid back injury you need to make sure you maintain the correct lifting posture. When you are lifting a heavy and or large object you should;
- Clear a path
- Make sure the object is held close to your body
- Place your feet shoulder width apart
- Bend your knees and keep your back straight
- Lift with your legs
Your back can also be injured sitting for extended periods of time. Bad posture can be the main cause of this. If you are sat in an incorrect way for hours a day it is sure to to put pressure on your back and cause back pain over time. Your sitting position can lead to other conditions such as Repetitive Strain Injury.
RSI is one of the highest reported injuries caused in the work place, one in filthy workers are believed to be suffering from it . It is damage to the soft tissue such as tendons, ligaments, nerves, muscles, fascia and blood vessels. You are likely to experience this in your hands, fingers, wrists, elbows, arms, shoulders and or neck with symptoms of tingling, aching, numbness, pain, swelling, and loss of strength and/or dexterity. You are likely to cause an RSI when you are constantly performing repetive motion. This is enhanced the more pressure exerted in the motion.
The actual cause of RSI is unknown but it is believed to be from poor posture, bad ergonomics and stress caused by these repetitive motions and the stress this puts on the areas without time to recover. This is usually why the same motion won’t result in RSI if not repeated. Repetitive Strain injury can lead to conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Cervical Spondylitis which could require surgery so can be very serious.
To avoid developing RSI there are procedures and methods you can follow. Your sitting position is very important; elbows should be positioned directly below your shoulders and tucked in. If typing you shouldn’t have to lean to reach your mouse and keyboard, keeping this same seated position. Touch typing lessons are adviceable as this teaches you to use all your fingers, evenly distributing the typing and avoiding moving your arms. Rests are very important to break the constant typing and sitting for long periods of time. Try techniques such as standing up when on the phone or walking to talk to someone rather than phoning them 5 desks down. To avoid RSI you need to keep your tendons and muscles moving and warm. Your employee has to provide you with all the training and equipment neccassary to prevent you from developing Repetitive Strain Injury. If they don’t and you suffer you can claim for RSI compensation.
There are other precautions you can take in the office to avoid developing RSI, such as increasing the font size on your computer screen. Even with large flat screen monitors, a lot of people still choose small fonts for aethetic purposes. As this makes text hard to read you will find yourself leaning towards the screen and hunching. This can lead to RSI as pressure is on the blood vessels and nerves in the neck and shoulders.
The office can still be a very safe place to work as long as the correct procedures are followed. There is responsibility of both your employee and yourself. You should be provided with all the equipment and trianing to ensure your health is protected in the workplace but you need to make sure they are used and followed properly.
I hoped this article helped clear up the dangers of the work place and how to avoid them.