OFFICE ERGONOMIC GUIDELINES - FAQs

What can cause our bodies to fatigue?

  • In our home, occupations and sporting activities, even the healthiest of bodies experience fatigue and strain from time to time. Human beings are adaptable by nature yet we respond to challenging situations and physical loads with increased muscular activity
  • Sometimes muscular activity is STATIC in nature, requiring us to either maintain awkward postures or even hold a comfortable position for a long period. Holding the muscles tense does not allow the flow of blood through the muscles so the waste products and lack of oxygen within the muscle cause discomfort and fatigue..
    A violinist can experience neck discomfort as can a keyboard operator through holding the neck to the side whilst performing. The same sort of neck discomfort can be experienced by a keyboard operator may do this whilst reading from documents placed to the side.
  • These movements can normally be sustained for longer periods than static positions because the blood supply continues to flow through the muscles. However if the dynamic movements are fast paced and repetitive, without breaks, this can also contribute to fatigue. In this case, the muscles cannot completely gain fresh supplies of oxygen and fuel due to the fast contractions or there is an inability of the circulatory system to keep up with the demand. Waste product build up also occurs causing discomfort.
  • Repetitive movements can also cause inflammation to the other joint structures. It is important that these symptoms are reported as early as possible and that control measures are put in place by the supervisor and staff member.
  • Regular pause breaks, stretches and varied activities help relieve tense muscles and flush them with oxygen and new energy.

What postures and movements could be contributing to my discomfort?

Prolonged and repeated use of the following postures and movements can contribute to discomfort;

  • head poked forwards, not in line with the spine
  • holding the wrist bent up or down
  • arm reaching or held away from the side
  • overstretching the fingers in keying
  • trunk twisted or flexed
  • gripping tightly
  • shoulders raised
  • keying or mouse use without break
  • mouse use on desk top not even with keyboard
  • cradling of phone by raising shoulder to neck

How can I prepare myself for new and demanding tasks to avoid discomfort at work?

  • Check and correct your posture and review your furniture and equipment set up and needs with your supervisor.
  • Fitness for work tasks should be gradually developed. To achieve any repetitive or forceful task requires the person to gradually train their muscles and joints for this specific task. It doesn’t matter if the activity is a game of squash or data entry. If the person is not "conditioned" to the task, pain is a common response.
  • Take care after extended leave. Even after you’ve become conditioned to a task, a four week break from your regular activity is likely to require a conditioning phase to resume the same pace and level of output without strain. So take care when resuming work.

What if I have discomfort?

Follow the steps below;

  • Determine if you have been involved in any different activities that may have caused over strain either at home, sport or work.
  • Apply first aid as required and rest the area, asking for your supervisors support in accommodating your problem in the short term.
  • Let your supervisor know if you think it relates to a work task so that together you can modify the situation if possible.
  • See your doctor if it doesn’t settle within a few days.
  • If you are have experienced discomfort with similar work tasks in the past and have not had any relief from the situation in consultation with your supervisor, contact one of our staff on 9351 4335.