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Healing the Workplace

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Healing the Workplace

In today's fast-paced society, we are spending more time at work than ever before. With this comes an increase in work-related injuries such as repetitive strain injuries, muscle and joint pain, and illnesses aggravated by stress. An estimated 80 percent of visits to health care professionals are for stress-related conditions.

In today’s fast-paced society, we are spending more time at work than ever before. With this comes an increase in work-related injuries such as repetitive strain injuries, muscle and joint pain, and illnesses aggravated by stress. An estimated 80 percent of visits to health care professionals are for stress-related conditions.

An Ipsos-Reid study released on March 18, 2004, showed that the main preventable contributors to employee absenteeism are:

  • depression/anxiety/other mental health disorders
  • stress
  • negative relationship with supervisor
  • co-worker conflict in the workplace

Wellness Programs to the Rescue

More than a decade of research supports the effectiveness of employee wellness programs, showing in decreased absenteeism, reduced WCB claims, lowered health insurance costs, and improvements to employee performance and productivity.

For example:

  • Coca Cola reported saving $500 yearly per participating employee after implementing a fitness program.
  • Coors Brewing Co. reported a 550-percent return for each dollar spent on their corporate wellness program, and absenteeism among participating employees decreased by 18 percent.
  • Prudential Insurance Company reported benefits costs for employees participating in their program to be $312, compared to nonparticipants, whose benefits cost $574.

What can You Do?

No matter how large or small the company is that you work for, talk to your human resources department about incorporating wellness programs into the workplace. These programs should educate on proper ergonomics, nutrition, stress management, and chronic pain management. If these programs already exist, make full use of them and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Here are some healthy workplace habits:

  1. Drink at least 8 cups (2 L) of water, herbal teas, or unsweetened fruit/vegetable juices throughout your day.
  2. Take brief stretch breaks every hour.
  3. Adjust your workstation ergonomics to avoid injuries.

Corporate wellness programs translate into fewer injuries, less human error, and a healthier office environ-ment. They also let you know that your company is concerned about your general health and well-being.

Office Ergonomics 101

One Size Does Not Fit All:

Most workstations are designed for an individual who is 5’8” tall. If you are taller or shorter, you will need to make adjustments to your workstation. Unsupported parts of the body can lead to repetitive strain injuries. The use of footrests can ensure proper alignment of hips and knees and can reduce stress on the low back.

Utilizing armrests can decrease muscular work required from the shoulders and neck.

Line of Sight:

To ensure proper neck position, make sure your computer screen is positioned such that your eye level is at the top 1/8 of the screen.

The Rule of 90:

The rule of 90 degrees governs your hips, knees, and elbows. While typing, ensure your elbows are supported at 90 degrees, your feet are flat on the floor with your knees at 90-degree angles, and your hips are at right angles to your body.

Position Yourself Well:

A good working posture is a neutral one. Keep objects such as your mouse, phone, and keyboard close to you to prevent excessive outstretching of your arms. To accomplish this, use devices such as a keyboard tray, a headset, and a wireless mouse.

Lumbar Support:

Prolonged periods of sitting on the edge of your seat or on a ball promote excessive fatigue of the large muscles of the low back, leading to stiffness and pain. To ensure proper spinal curvature, sit into the back of your chair, which should be equipped with lumbar support. If your support is insufficient, the use of a backrest may be helpful.

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