Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » Workplace Ergonomics
Workplace Ergonomics

Workplace Ergonomics

It starts out as a minor twinge in the wrist that barely cramps the style of the countless workers who spend hours at the keyboard every day. But then, for many, it escalates until workdays are cut short with acute pain radiating from the hand to the elbow, shoulder and back.

Carpal tunnel syndrome and other forms of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are a major issue for millions of employees. And a poll on the Society of Human Resource Management's Web site found that 70 percent of respondents' companies had no ergonomics plan in place. Furthermore, many RSI-prone independent workers aren't subject to Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. But if you put a premium on your health, it might behoove you to examine the ergonomics of your work environment. Cornell University's Ergonomics Web puts it this way: "Good ergonomics programs are always cost-effective; they save more than they cost." With that in mind, consider these options for prevention and treatment.


Although the treatment of RSI is mired in contradictory viewpoints, many prevention techniques are widely accepted. Experts agree that workers should take frequent breaks from their computer workstations, shift sitting positions and stretch regularly.

"The golden rule of ergonomics is to work in neutral positions," says Jack Bellis, coauthor of It's Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: RSI Theory & Therapy for Computer Professionals. This means positioning yourself, your chair, your keyboard and your computer monitor correctly.

Ergonomic hardware and furniture may offer substantial relief from hand, arm and back pain if properly chosen and installed. But beware: Some devices and furnishings may cause further injury. Check with a certified health practitioner before changing your behavior or workstation setup.

Hardware and Software

On the hardware side, ergonomic keyboards, and adjustable keyboards and mouse trays can help you maintain proper posture and neutral wrist position. If you ever type while talking on the phone, a telephone headset will help ward off a serious neck pain. Do you spend many hours a day working on your notebook PC? "Laptop computers on a desk may be one of the worst situations," warns Bellis.

Some writers, programmers, designers and consultants have turned to speech-recognition software to reduce stress on their hands. These software programs, which in recent years have improved somewhat in accuracy and usability, let you dictate text and even enter commands with your voice. The financial investment is moderate, but most users spend lots of time correcting dictation errors and training the software to understand their words.


When should you seek therapeutic treatment of RSI? As soon as you suspect you may have a problem. The longer you wait, the more costly the course of treatment -- in terms of money, time and pain.

What kind of treatment should you get? There are many options. Some orthopedic surgeons insist that surgery is the only effective treatment for advanced carpal tunnel syndrome. "A lot of people get surgery, and it helps them immensely," says Bellis. "But there's a good chance that surgery will just address your latest point of failure." For example, surgery may decrease wrist pain but not prevent the emergence of related RSI problems in the elbow and shoulder.

Physical therapy may be a better form of initial treatment for RSI patients, according to Bellis and his coauthor, Suparna Damany, a certified hand therapist and ergonomic assessment specialist. Massage is one therapy that can give lasting relief to some RSI sufferers.

If a physician suggests surgery, take a deep breath and consider therapeutic alternatives offered by licensed specialists. If you're hyperventilating at the notion of spending several hundred dollars to improve your workstation's ergonomics, compare that to the prospect of an RSI disability that could cost you thousands of dollars in billings.


Latest Jobs

Marshfield Clinic AmeriCorps
Posted: 05/22/2015
Marshfield, WI, 54449
TOP Chicago
Posted: 05/22/2015
Marion, IL
Ingenium Technologies
Posted: 05/22/2015
Rockford, IL
The HT Group
Posted: 05/22/2015
Austin, TX
Express Employment
Posted: 05/22/2015
Covina, CA, 91723

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-320