The Ergonomics of the seated worker

Computer Workstation VariablesErgonomics is a science that aims to study and understand the interactions between man and the other elements of a working system. From this discipline emerges the profession of Ergonomist which applies theories, principles, data, and methods for the design of products and work systems, aiming in an integrated way the health, safety, and well-being of the individual, as well as the effectiveness of the systems.

The definition of Ergonomics helps to understand the importance this discipline has for health and safety technicians at work. One of the most negative and cost-effective consequences for companies and the public purse is the typical “back pain,” low back pain, sciatica, etc. Which are fundamentally linked to ergonomic problems at work?

Thus, the position of the worker, when his work implies long periods of immobilization, is fundamental in the prevention of the risks associated with this type of professions. Poor posture causes, in the medium term, cervical pain, low back pain, disc herniation, and several other musculoskeletal disorders. For a proper position of the worker who exercises his seated activity, for extended periods of time, we suggest some advice:

Adequate height of the head about the computer screen, keeping it in a vertical direction and projecting the shoulders back, so as not to impair the cervical area of ​​the head,

Use of ergonomic chairs with adequate support that forces the posture of the individual at a 90º angle,

Feet support on the ground, forming a 90º angle on the knees, so as to improve circulation in the lower limbs,

Proximity to the keyboard to allow support of the forearms on the table, forming a 90-degree angle at the elbow so as not to press the cervical excessively.

For each hour of immobilized work, you should do pushups and stretching exercises on the head, arms, and legs to activate blood circulation and prevent muscle stiffness.

Working sitting is not as harmless as it may seem at first glance. Being seated throughout the work period forces your back more than if you were standing at the same time. Although the legislation in this area has already existed since 1986 (Decree-Law No. 243/86 approving the General Regulation on Occupational Health and Safety in Commercial, Office and Service Establishments, as a transposition of Convention No. 120 of the International Organization Of work), much work still needs to be done.

The training of accredited technicians to help implement good ergonomic practices at work is one of the ways to go and that in Portugal is duly regulated by the ACT through courses for occupational safety and hygiene technician

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