OFFICE ERGONOMIC GUIDELINES - STRATEGIES & PAUSE EXERCISES

Personal Strategies

  • Changing established postural habits can be uncomfortable in the short term
    It is important to persist with such a change and be aware that your state of mind can cause increased muscular tension.
  • Clear, calm and direct communication is important
    Such communication can greatly enhance the ability to prevent and recover from musculoskeletal injuries. Staff can initiate change in aspects of work, over which they have some control.
  • Take responsibility for personal behaviours
    These personal behaviours can work to improve general health, your response to other employees and work demands. Inform your supervisor promptly about any difficulties in relation to your work.
  • Work and home factors affect our energy levels and scope for change
    Positive relationships are important for physical and mental health. The University offers counselling, mediation and advice through its Employee Assistance program (EAP). The EAP services, accessed through the Staff Support Unit can provide short term assistance in situations such as grieving, coping with relationship breakdown and depression.

Task and Postural Variety

  • Postural breaks are essential
    Respond to feelings of fatigue or discomfort by changing task, changing posture or taking a break. Often your efficiency and concentration improve following such breaks.
  • Change your seated position frequently
    Make sure your feet rest on the floor or on a footrest and adjust the backrest occasionally for example to recline (when talking on the telephone). Ensure the backrest of your chair is supporting (presses in against) your low back for most of the day.
  • Try standing occasionally
    Try reading with the file or book on the top of a filing cabinet; stand when talking on the telephone; remain standing when talking to other staff.
  • Extended leave precautions
    If you are absent from repetitive work for more than a month through illness, a change of duty or leave, resume a full workload gradually in consultation with your supervisor.

Pause Exercises

  • Short task breaks and stretches are recommended
    These should be taken at least once per hour and more frequently during intense keying periods. Regular opportunities to stand and walk are also important. Pause exercises can be performed throughout the day in some of these breaks to relieve muscular tension.
  • Take care never to over stretch to the point of experiencing pain.
    Take care to consult your treating practitioners if you have a medical condition for specific guidelines. Hold the stretches for approximately 10 to 15 seconds each.
  • Click below for 2 sheets of sample gentle pause exercises.

(The recommended exercises sourced from an RMO resource, Body Mechanics VHI Resource Library, Health Promotion Resources, 1999)