With COVID, many more workers have been doing their jobs at home, setting up a home office in the extra bedroom or den. While this can help us stay productive, remote working presents some unique risks for injuries while you work.
For instance, hand, arm, and wrist problems are common in those who spend their days at a desk, and sprains, strains, carpal tunnel, and tendonitis are all exacerbated by improper ergonomics.
At Tri County Pain Management, we see a lot of workplace injuries — and could be avoided with some of the tips below.
If you’re working at home or are an employer with workers at home, consider the following recommendations:
1) Set up a proper ergonomic work station, with a supportive comfortable chair, wrist rest, and proper screen position. Ask your employer if you need assistance; OSHA requires employers to provide a safe working environment for all workers, whether they work in the office or remotely.
The Mayo Clinic has a page with more info on proper ergonomics at work at this link and the National Institutes of Health provides a webpage to help you assess if your workstation is set up correctly, as well as a “self-assessment” ergonomics list and the photo below for guidance.
Scroll down for more recommendations…
Watch the height of your desk or work table, as well as your monitor. A work table that’s too high or low can cause shoulder and neck pain, and a monitor that’s too high or low will cause eye strain and possible neck and shoulder problems. If these persist too long, they can lead to musculoskeletal ailments.
KEEP MOVING THROUGHOUT THE DAY
2) Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to get up and walk around and stretch during your workday. If we’re working at home, we can become more sedentary, and don’t have the same opportunities for walking around to meetings or other staff offices. Build that into your day, even if it’s just a stroll up the street or around the backyard.
GET A GOOD CHAIR
3) Zoom meetings can be handy, but they often keep us plopped in our chairs too long. Be sure it’s a good chair — good lumbar support and leg angle, and support for your arms. An improper chair may cause poor circulation and joint and muscle problems.
CONSIDER AN ADJUSTABLE DESK
4) Consider an adjustable desk, to stand or sit. Nowadays, many manufacturers like iMovR make standing desks, or adjustable ones to switch between standing and sitting. These help you adjust your position regularly and keeps the blood flowing.
AVOID THE LAPTOP HUNCH
5) When using a laptop, people can hunch over more than they should or have their arms higher than normal when typing, especially if the laptop is on top of a table or desk. This can lead to shoulder and arm pain. Also, our angle of viewing is different than when using a desktop monitor, which can cause problems in the neck and shoulders.
If you use a laptop a lot, consider plugging it into an external keyboard and placing the keyboard in a tray for a more natural typing position, and perhaps place the laptop on a stand to lift the viewing angle of the screen.
STAY PAIN FREE
These are just a few suggestions to help you remain free of pain when working at home. If you have any concerns, ask your employer for more information on improving your remote office setup.
For more information, visit our home page.