Ergonomics and Ergonomic Products

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One of the major solutions that have evolved to treat carpal tunnel syndrome and other such injuries caused by constant workplace repetition is ergonomics, and ergonomic products. These two things are combinations of exercises, stretches and specialized equipment that help to prevent, and lessen the pain of, severe injuries, the most commonly known of which is carpal tunnel syndrome. This article is an overview of some of the products, and possibilities, that are opened to create a more successful business, one that incorporates a healthier work environment for its workers.

While at first many companies were hesitant (to say the least) about the concept of using ergonomic products to treat and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, nowadays there is actually much less resistance, because time has shown that many times the companies that took a risk and brought in the ergonomic products and procedures to their employees has actually paid off for them! The introduction of ergonomic products has reduced injuries, which in turn results in more efficient and productive workers. This also, as another positive result, led to lower operating costs. Some of the changes appeared quite minor, but led to huge results. For example, redesigning check stands to reduce ergonomic risk factors such as twisting or extended reaching can improve cashier effectiveness and productivity.

There are many OSHA guidelines that outline what types of jobs need to be most strongly considering ergonomic equipment and programs, and such lists can be easily located from the OSHA web site. As the success of ergonomics became obvious, more and more companies have jumped into the game to provide quality products for the employees of those industries. These aren't just cheap gimmicks, either. A lot of money has been invested by the government and associated companies to find the most effective way to ergonomically attack carpal tunnel syndrome. The reason they can have such fierce competition is that other companies that need ergonomic equipment know that the right equipment decreases injuries and that f ewer injuries means higher morale, less sick time, and less overtime (for the people filling in for injured workers); reduce employee turnover, and encourage employees to stay for longer periods of time, even for entire careers. This isn't even taking into consideration how much happier and healthier employees improve customer service, thereby improving the number of customers who will keep coming back.

There is a wide variety of ergonomic equipment that includes, but is not limited to, c hairs, computer desks, special keyboards, mice, office chairs, office furniture, seating, software programs, stretch and exercise systems and customized workstations. To finish this article, here is a list of some of the most common ergonomic equipment and a brief overview of how it helps affect the work place.

Keyboard Trays: These are used t o adjust the height and angle of a keyboard in order to fit the person or allow posture change.

Wrist Rests: One of the most common, most important, and most effective ergonomic products. These help prevent the wrist from dropping (bending back) while keying during keying pauses, or while using the mouse. This is the worst habit that can lead to carpal syndrome in an office worker. These also help to take a little bit of weight off the shoulders and reduce shoulder muscle work to soften the surface under the wrist

Mouse Support Trays: Reduces reaching by keeping a mouse near the keyboard, if a keyboard tray is used.

Forearm Supports: To support the arms. Helps prevent the wrist from dropping while using the keyboard. They also help to avoid pressure under the wrist or elbow that may occur with wrist rests or chair armrests.

Alternative Keyboards and Alternatives to Mice: These emphasize the use of different muscles in the upper extremity.

Height-adjustable tables and work surfaces: These are pretty self-explanatory. Someone who is seven foot two is going to have much different needs than someone who is four foot ten. Helps adjust for posture regardless of who is using the work area.

Monitor arms:  These help to free up work surface under the monitor. This also allows for the forward and back or sometimes up and down movement of the monitor to accompany posture changes or fit different employees. They can even be used to store keyboards when not in use

Adjustable seating: Allows for different posture and different sized workers to still both comfortably use the same area.

Stretch Break Software: Times employees to take breaks throughout the day and rest overworked muscles.

Stretch and Exercise Programs: Active exercise and stretch programs increase circulation and decrease muscle imbalances, the main cause of compression syndromes like carpal tunnel.

The use of these ergonomic products will help prevent injuries, keep worker morale up, and keep a business where it should be: going forward without a hitch.

Read on for further advice on diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome.