Did you know that a third of all workplace injuries happen in offices? According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) — like carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back injury, and muscle strains — account for 33 percent of all worker injury and illness cases.
Don’t panic, though. According to the Mayo Clinic, a few simple adjustments to your desk and chair can dramatically reduce the risk of developing an MSD.
- Adjust your chair so your feet rest flat against the floor and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Keep frequently used items like your phone, notepad, and important files close by to reduce reaching.
- Put your computer monitor at arms’ length directly in front of you.
- Don’t squeeze your phone between your head and shoulder when you talk. If you need to keep your hands free, consider getting a headset or phone cradle.
Another way to minimize the risk of developing MSDs at work is to walk around during the day. Recent research has shown moving for five minutes every hour helps workers feel better than when they sit all day. Taking regular stretch breaks like these helps keep blood flowing throughout your body, keeping you alert and focused. If you have to sit for hours on end, flex your calves and roll your ankles every once in a while.
More Than Physical Discomfort
Even adopting all the recommended habits won’t solve every workplace ache and pain. Constant mental and emotional stress also factors into common office injuries. According to the American Psychological Association, job-related stress greatly increases the risk of a host of physical disorders, including MSDs, panic attacks, and cardiovascular events.
When you experience constant stress, your muscles remain in a slightly tensed state at all times. This tension is correlated with stress-related injuries such as migraine and (aptly named) tension headaches and can contribute to developing an MSD.
Though every workplace and individual is different, relaxation techniques have been shown to help reduce muscle tension and other physical symptoms of work-related stress. You can even do a few of these techniques right at your desk:
- Take deep breaths from your diaphragm
- Try non-strenuous stretching exercises (like yoga) once a day
- Change your office vocabulary to reduce negative statements (“This will never work”) and increase positive goal-setting (“How can we make this work?”)
- Add appropriate humor to stressful situations
- Take breaks between tasks you know to be stressful
Remember, it is your employer’s responsibility to keep you safe and mentally healthy at work. Ask your coworkers how they prevent work-related stress and share your knowledge with them.
A Helping Hand from an Evansville Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Many people don’t associate MSDs or mental stress with typical worker’s compensation claims, even though they can contribute to legitimate injuries. In addition, insurance companies make receiving compensation from workplace MSDs difficult or too confusing to attempt on your own.
Amid these unfamiliar circumstances, a qualified and compassionate Evansville workers’ compensation attorney can help you file a claim and pursue compensation for your stress-related injury. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation.