Compliance and Safety

Ergonomics Training: 10 Tips to Avoid Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace

By Erin Boettge

Ergonomics at work

Today’s workplace can often be a heads-down environment, where employees are sitting in front of a keyboard or screen working on spreadsheets or analyzing data, or standing in their work area for hours on end.

Some people have trouble finding time for short breaks, and may even regularly skip lunch.

Most employees don’t think about ergonomics at work, but ignoring good posture, regular stretching, or taking breaks can lead to painful musculoskeletal disorders. 

Why is that? Over time, fine hand and body movements, repeated hour after hour, day after day, thousands upon thousands of times, eventually strain muscles and tendons. What happens is that all those repetitions cause microscopic tears.

Have this happen over and over, and your employees may start having all kinds of physical responses, ranging from simple aches to serious medical problems.

These are called “repetitive strain injuries” (RSIs) and they’re the result of overusing some parts of the body. You may have also heard it called “occupational overuse syndrome.”

Providing ergonomics training to your employees is a simple, yet very effective way to promote safety, avoid RSIs, and help them be happier and more productive at work.

If you’re interested in using video training, check out a preview of this course on ergonomics, RSIs, and stretching:

Minimize Eye Strain

For some quick tips to help you and your employees pay more attention to everyday safety and ergonomics at work, here are 10 ways to help improve daily habits:

1. Stay Aligned

What does that mean? Well, it’s just keeping things lined up the way they should be—in the same direction. That includes everything from posture, to legs, to torso, to shoulders, to head. Twisting, turning, tilting, being in awkward positions, and reaching sideways all cause problems over time.

2. Stay Relaxed

Any tension in the body can potentially cause problems over the long run. The more relaxed you are as you sit or stand at work, the better off you’ll be.

3. Avoid Extreme Positions

If you’ve been holding a phone receiver in the crook of your neck while you shuffle paperwork around, you can end up with a sore neck and shoulder. Or when you’ve been intently hunched over in front of a computer screen for hours, you can hardly stand up. Extreme positions like these aren’t doing you any good.

4. Switch Up Your Tasks

If you’ve been steadily keying in data, stop for a while and jot down some notes. Or work on a planning list, go over some reports, or edit some documents. Just do something else, requiring different hand movements and in a different posture to give yourself a break.

5. Change Position

Get the circulation flowing. Stand up for a minute or two. Move around. Go for a walk. Meet somebody away from your work station. Do some filing. Go get something, or put something away. Just do anything that causes you to shift positions and move around.

6. Take More Breaks

Even if they’re work breaks. If you have a couple things to do that are different, split them up so you get two shorter breaks, rather than doing them all at once in a longer break.

7. Move Effectively

Lift things properly, rather than straining your back. Keep things in front of you, so you aren’t reaching to the side. Use the right posture and wrist angle at the keyboard.

8. Don’t Overprotect

Sometimes you can become too inflexible, too square, or too rigid in your movements. For example, you can overdo posture by being too stiff. Again, any tension, or needless repetitive motion, is a potential problem.

9. Watch Your Footwear

A lot of things go wrong when your feet aren’t properly supported. It could be those great-looking high heels. It could be sandals with no padding. Or it could be a hard floor. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes with adequate padding for the floor area where you work.

10. Stretch!

This is such an easy way to help your body out – doing some simple stretches while you’re at work can help you instantly relieve tension and feel more relaxed.

Remember, a healthy workplace is a productive workplace!

Employers are responsible for providing a workplace dedicated to the health and safety of employees. Luckily, BizLibrary’s extensive content library includes hundreds of health, wellness, and safety video courses for your employees to view online and on-demand.

Learn more about our online content library and request a demo to see if it’s the right fit for training your employees on workplace safety, compliance, and much more!

Erin Boettge researches and writes on a variety of business topics, including workplace dynamics, HR strategies, and training trends and technology.