As the way we work changes, so do the risks we face as we complete that work. While technology makes it easier for small business owners and employees to accomplish tasks from nearly anywhere, the constant use of mobile devices, often in unconventional settings, can accidentally promote the potential for ergonomics risks.
We're using more devices, and we're doing so from a wider array of settings that, while they may improve productivity, can also increase risks for neck, shoulder and wrist soreness as well as raising the potential for costly carpal tunnel injuries.
Another potential danger can come from working with a notebook computer balanced on your lap. While this can be convenient for a short computing session, it can also lead to a heat buildup that in turn can cause skin discomfort or, in extreme cases, burns.
To help reduce these risks, business owners can work with risk and safety professionals, who often are available through your insurance company, to identify safer working practices and equipment that lowers injury rates as well as the potential for health and disability claims.
Although the specific recommendations will depend on your workplace and industry practices, some typical recommendations from safety professionals may include:
- Discourage workers from spending too much time huddled over a tablet device that's sitting on a flat table. This results in a hunched-over position that promotes neck and shoulder soreness.
- If a worker uses a monitor, be sure they can do so without having to raise or lower their heads. Holding your head in one place for extended periods can result in neck strain.
- Pay attention to office and workstation lighting to reduce glare and eyestrain.
- Invest in ergonomic office chairs to improve workplace comfort and productivity. Employees should be able to adjust the height of their chairs and armrests to create the best fit for each team member.
- Telephone headsets are more comfortable than holding a traditional handset for extended periods, and can reduce neck strain.
- Encourage workers to stand up and move around periodically to reduce strain and stress.
By paying attention to the devices we use, and how we use them, business owners can help promote safe working and ergonomics practices in their companies.