Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » Six Ways to Prevent Office Inju ...
Six Ways to Prevent Office Injury

Six Ways to Prevent Office Injury

By Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs

It's not just the most physically demanding jobs that can lead to serious injuries. Working with a seemingly harmless mouse and keyboard can cause chronic injuries just as easily as hauling a load of cement. In fact, repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel affect hundreds of thousands of American workers a year, and lead to tens of billions of dollars annually in workers' comp claims, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

Nelson Liu, a certified acupuncturist in Los Angeles, sees many of these disorders in his patients. "People who sit at desks and work on computers come to me with chronic pain in the shoulders, wrist, neck and eyes, and they often result from the small, repetitive motions they do on the job every day," he says.

Common Injury Causes

The top culprits of what experts call repetitive strain disorders include:

  • Sitting in an unnatural posture for a long time.
  • Not allowing recovery time.
  • Shallow breathing.
  • Repetitive motions, such as using the phone, typing with bent wrists and using a mouse.
  • Using force or pressure, such as pinching pens, gripping the mouse too hard or pounding the keyboard.

Even emotional stress can lead to strain and pain. "People are particularly stressed out right now, and often emotional stress turns to physical stress, which turns to worse posture, which turns to pain, which turns to more stress," says Wendy Young, a certified ergonomist in Houston and author of the e-book, Get Inside Your Comfort Zone.

There are ways to break the vicious circle, and they don't necessarily require the most expensive office chair or expert intervention, according to Tony Biafore, an ergonomics expert president of Ergonetics. "A lot of companies think they can solve ergonomics problems with a one-size-fits-all approach, or by buying the most expensive keyboards or office chairs," Biafore says. "Fancy ergonomic equipment is worthless if you don't identify how you're using them."

Decrease the Risk Factors

To avoid pain and possibly chronic problems, ergonomics experts recommend several ways of developing a low-risk working posture:

  • Sit Naturally: "Many people perch on their chair, lean forward and tuck their feet under, especially when they're concentrating," Biafore said. Notice how you sit, and make adjustments to the chair or to your posture if any part of your body is experiencing tightness, strain or pain.  
  • Type Right: You shouldn't have to change your seated posture or angle your hands to type. The keyboard should come to you. If it doesn't, adjust your seating position or ask for a keyboard tray.  
  • Check Your Viewpoint: Your eyes should naturally gaze at the middle of the computer screen. If you have to look up or down, move the display. This goes for placement of paper documents as well -- you shouldn't have to crane your neck to see them.  
  • Catch the Mouse Problem: If you have to reach for it, then your seated posture may be out of whack.  
  • Take Breaks: You should get up about five minutes every hour to get out of your chair, get a drink or just walk to the next cubicle. Young also recommended taking microbreaks, of about 10 seconds every 15 minutes to rest your eyes and hands.  
  • Speak Up: Report any problem to facilities, HR or, if your company has one, an ergonomics specialist. If you've identified the problem as merely the need for a wrist pad, an adjustable chair or a movable display, it's in the company's interest to comply.

Laptops present a special challenge because they require users to lean too far forward and reach for the keyboard, according to Biafore. If you can, use an external keyboard and a mouse, and prop up the screen to replicate an LED monitor, Biafore suggested.

Many changes can be small -- like adjusting the seat position or raising your arms off the desk -- and can be done without consulting an ergonomics expert. But remember that one change you make could throw off something else. "The workstation should fit your body like a comfortable pair of shoes," Young said.

Making adjustments to your workstation requires paying close attention to your body. "Any kind of pain is a signal, and if you cover it up with medication, or even getting acupuncture, without addressing the underlying cause, it will only get worse," Liu says. "Ultimately the best doctor is yourself -- only you can figure out exactly what's not working and how to fix it."

Articles in This Feature:

Latest Jobs

Above All Personnel
Posted: 05/29/2015
Saint Louis, 63117
True Manufacturing
Posted: 05/29/2015
Cottleville, 63366
Posted: 05/29/2015
Wood Dale, 60191
The Insurance Group
Posted: 05/29/2015
Saint Louis, 63101
H & W Janitorial Services
Posted: 05/29/2015
Saint Louis, 63136

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: 2015.8.0.34-213