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Workplace Health: Office Ergonomics

Complain early and complain loudly.

While this is not advice that employers typically provide to employees in managing workplace problems, it should be the guidance for office workers who start experiencing bodily pains associated with work. Pain comes from some underlying problem so if the problem is caused or aggravated by the workplace, then continuing to work will worsen the problem.

The pain associated with inadequate work station set-up is initially a mild soreness. It can be managed with over the counter pain medications and does not seem very significant. In truth, at the earliest stage, it isn’t significant and can be fixed with a little rest.

The issue is that continuing to work can cause mechanical wear and inflammation, which in turn increases the rate at which future damage occurs. This negative feedback loop with an accumulation of damage is the concern. Since the pain increases slowly over time, most workers will progressively adjust and continue to cope.

This story ends when the worker cannot cope because of the discomfort and pain. At this point, significant, possibly irreversible, damage has occurred, and the employee and the employer have a serious problem. Correction will be expensive and possibly not completely effective.

Late reporting is a serious issue in office ergonomics. Here are the underlying reasons.

  • The signs and symptoms escalate slowly and can be dismissed for a long time.
  • Only a small minority is susceptible to this problem. This minority status makes the affected worker question themselves and worry about appearances.
  • Concerns about an explosion of fancy furniture. Both employers and employees believe that a single new chair or keyboard tray could result in competitive escalation of cubicle accessorizing. It happens less frequently than imagined.

The interventions that are necessary to prevent damage are normally very inexpensive. Simply adjusting what is already in the office can often be enough. The real issue is recognizing and facing the problem. The hesitancy that employees may have in requesting help does not serve them nor their employer. Encouraging early reporting is in everyone’s best interest.  For assistance with innovative healthy interiors, please contact us.c