In an earlier post, we discussed the dangers employees face when their jobs require awkward postures or repetitive awkward motions that take place during the course of an eight-hour shift. Twisting, reaching, lifting, or placing the same stress on the same joints over and over can contribute to musculoskeletal injuries and repetitive stress disorders that affect the ligaments, muscles, bones, or joints. These awkward or continuous motions can also create health problems that extend to the eyes and nerves.
But at the same time, static postures can also lead to health issues. Just like awkward motions, static postures that are sustained or unnatural can place stress on the body that may result in illness, injury, nerve damage or inflamed ligaments. Here are four of the most common and detrimental static postures:
Squatting: A squatting or crouching posture can strain the knees and lower back and should be limited to two hours total per shift.
Raised arms: During any eight-hour period, the arms should not be elevated above the head without support for more than two hours. This also includes postures that elevate the elbows above the shoulders.
Bending at a 30-degree angle: An inclined or slight lean without support should not be part of any shift for more than two hours total.
Bending at a 45 degree angle: Bending forward at the waist without support can cause serious health problems if the position is unshifting or unbroken for two hours during an eight-hour shift.
Standing and sitting are also problematic when they extend for multiple continuous hours. Fortunately, there may be some simple ways around these restrictions. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure your workers are protected by implementing any of these solutions.
- Shift tasks to keep the body in motion. Consider assigning tasks to teams that rotate throughout the day.
- Place shock-absorbing mats under the feet of employees who stand for more than two hours at a time.
- Reduce the work surface height or alter the workstation so the arms are not extended above the employee’s head.
- Provide proper seating for tasks that occur below the waist or require employees to bend or crouch.
- Provide adjustable seating for employees who sit for long periods of time.
And as always, remain open and responsive to employee feedback. If your teams are struggling with aches and pains, awkward positioning or fatigue, address the problem immediately. Don’t wait for an injury claim or a lost workday before you take action. In the meantime, encourage suggestions regarding workstation adjustments. And consider investing in equipment that provides ergonomic support. For more on this important issue, reach out to the materials handling workplace experts at Liftow.