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As lawyers, we spend most of our days sitting at a desk, working on a computer. And while our ever-expanding concern over our ever-expanding "office chair ass" is legitimate, there are more important things at stake -- like our health.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration defines ergonomics as "fitting a job to a person," and by doing so, you can help "lessen muscle fatigue, increase productivity and reduce the number and severity of work-related MSDs [musculoskeletal disorders]."
Hiring an ergonomics consultant may be beyond your budget, but you can take matters into your own hands to make the work place more comfortable for you, and your employees. Not only will your employees suffer from fewer work place injuries, but they will also be more productive.
The work station is the first place for you to look to make sure that you are optimizing ergonomicness (yes, we made that word up). OSHA suggests checking for proper lighting and ventilation, and checking your equipment for proper placement. You essentially want to make sure that you maintain good posture, and not place unnecessary stress on your eyes, neck, shoulders, wrists and back.
While many are quick to blame the chair for back problems and pain, it's often the positioning of the chair, not the chair itself, notes TechnoLawyer. You don't need to spend money on fancy chairs, you just need to make sure you adjust them to the sitter's body. According to OSHA, you want to keep your body in a neutral position to alleviate stress. And, while Mr. Peacock branched out to an exercise ball chair, it's not OSHA-approved.
Some accessories can alleviate work stress. For example, if you have to draft while you are on the phone, consider a headset. There are also optimal placement considerations for your phone, monitor, mouse and keyboard. Visit the OSHA website for the full ergonomics checklist (there's a lot to consider).
Though you are not required by law to provide an ergonomic work place for your employees, it's in your best interest to do so. You, and your employees, will work more productively if you are not in pain. It may seem like a waste of time and resources, but you will be paid back in that higher productivity.
Does your firm have an ergonomics policy? Have you done anything to improve ergonomics at your firm? Let us know on LinkedIn.
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