Regain your posture
16 March 2021
The latest webinar from Health and Safety Matters magazine looked at the rise and prevention of MusculoSkeletal Disorders (MSDs) in the office environment.
WITH ADVANCES in automation in manufacturing, lifting aids, occupational health monitoring and general awareness, the total numbers of MSD's in the workplace is falling, however, with an increase in the number of people working at a computer there is a rise in the number instances of MSDs in this area. The webinar, hosted by EcoOnline on the 22 February 2021, explored the rising numbers of MSDs being reported in the office environment and explains the basics of ensuring your staff are protected.
With an increasing amount of us working from home during this pandemic, we should all be questioning our home-setup. Having the correct set up is imperative for our posture so that we can avoid the general aches and pains of slouching over our screens, which can leave some workers with permanent damage.
EcoOnline is the largest HSEQ software provider in Northern Europe, providing user-friendly configurable solutions creating safer workplaces across all types of industries. Dermot Dinon, solutions manager at EcoOnline says, “We are there to help you help your health and safety. In the workplace in general the instances of MSDs is falling.”
Dermot highlighted a statistic from a European study in 2019, “Working with computers, laptops, smartphones, etc. is becoming increasingly prevalent in Europe. According to the EWCS the percentage of people working with computers for at least a quarter of their working day increased from 47% in 2000 to 53% in 2010 and 58% in 2015.”
Physical therapist, Gerry McIntyre gave his expect opinion on why there has been this sudden rise and how we can avoid these going forward. He said, “Kept in the correct alignment, the spine is able to stand up to a lot of pressure, but we have a big tendency to take it out of that alignment.”
As a physio therapist, he finds that he sees patients that are already injured. “What we are trying to do is be more proactive about things. In terms of the work I do as a physio, everything is reactive – I see people that are injured. Even in regards to health and safety it has always that reactive nature to things. Now what we are trying to do is be more proactive about it.”
There are many injuries that can be avoided and the webinar explained some of the most common problems that office workers can suffer.
Upper Cross Syndrome is a condition very prevalent among office workers due to prolonged fixed position. As well as seeing the slides on this webinar, attendees are also able to see the speaker, so Gerry McIntyre could really reinforce these issues by demonstrating how our posture can be compromised while working in an office – often looking down at a computer screen and rounding our shoulders as we type – and how these working habits can cause changes in posture. Tiredness, headaches, pain between the shoulders and decreased range of motion are some of the outcomes of this.
Sitting in a chair for eight hours a day can cause Lower Cross Syndrome, which McIntyre could really demonstrate how this puts stress on the lower body through the live video demonstration. He said, "The problem is muscles are being held in position for a long duration."
McIntyre wants us to get back to good balance and our normal alliance. He says, “If any of us drive long distances for a living, how do you feel when you get out of the car? Generally you're okay when you are in the car, but it is when you get out of the car that you feel it. While you are in the car everything has changed to normal, but when you go to stand up again your body starts to feel it because for four hours you have told your body that the sitting position is normal.”
An ergonomic set up is really important and we have to fit the task to the person, not the other way around, and just like we would set a car seat position to the driver we should also be making these individual changes in our office environment.
In production line ups we have become very good at adapting and now we need to follow on with the office environment. Seating positions need to be adjusted and desk set ups should be adjusted to the individual worker. People are reactive and those that have injuries will request additional equipment such as a headset or a gel keyboard support.
Office workers need to stretch frequently, do simple core exercises at their desk, take frequent breaks from fixed position, have an uncluttered desk with the most frequently used items closest to them.
Everyone need to be involved in health and safety for health and safety to truly work, so Dermot says we need to make this as easy as possible so that everyone does their bit. “EcoOnline is all about moving from manual health and safety systems to digital – and it is not just about moving from paper to online – it is about changing how we do health and safety.
“The new way of thinking is that you are there to guide and give expert advice, put systems in place and get everyone involved in health and safety. You make the information available to them, and make it easier for them to tell you about an incidence. You make it easier for them to fill in their information in an assessment. We are all about putting systems in place to support that.”
The webinar finished with a live question and answer session which raised some interesting thoughts on working from home during the pandemic, stand up desks and kneeling seats. You can find out more when you watch the webinar on demand. Please visit https://events.streamgo.live/The-Rise-Of-MSD/live
Dermot Dinan is solutions manager at EcoOnline. For more information, visit www.ecoonline.com
Gerry McIntyre is owner, lead trainer and physical therapist at Shannon PT. For more information, visit: www.shannonpt.com