Are you working comfortably? - National campaign aims to put an end to back pain Tuesday 25 March 2008 PDF Print Doncaster, UK, March 2008: Fellowes, in partnership with BackCare, the charity for healthier backs, has launched Ergonomix, a nationwide month-long campaign that aims to reduce the risk of RSI, back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders through the promotion of improved posture in the work place. The average office worker spends eight hours per day at a computer, often sitting for prolonged periods with incorrect – and potentially damaging – posture. It is little wonder, therefore, that 80% of Britons suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, and that more of us than ever are affected by RSI and other musculoskeletal disorders. Yet, there is no need to suffer in silence, as employers are legally obliged to ensure that employees are working comfortably. Research commissioned by workspace solutions specialist Fellowes shows that 53% of the UK’s office workers are unaware that work station assessments are a legal requirement, and that 36% of the population has never had a formal assessment, with a further 12% admitting that their last assessment took place so long ago that they can no longer remember the advice they were given. Fellowes and BackCare are leading the fight against workstation illnesses and have set up a dedicated website for office workers to visit. At www.ergonomix.info, workers can complete a short, interactive workstation assessment, which will immediately identify potential ‘hot-spots’ and advise on methods for prevention. If your workstation is not safe, speak to your employer today and demand the ergonomic products you need to correct your posture and protect your back! “If you are experiencing any form of discomfort, speak up!” said Dr Dries Hettinga of BackCare. “You might be entitled to a different chair or simple additions to your work station - and if your employer feels that they cannot provide more than basic equipment, you might be eligible for government assistance through the Access to Work scheme. There is definitely no reason to continue working uncomfortably.” Louise Shipley, Fellowes’ ergonomic expert, agrees: “With the majority of our work now being computer based, and many of us having computers at home as well as at work, we are spending much longer at a computer and more time working than not. This, coupled with poor posture and repetitive movement, can cause strain to many parts of the body, including backs, necks and wrists.” “Back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders can be prevented by conducting a computer workstation assessment and by taking simple steps to ensure that you are working comfortably.” All workers can immediately improve their posture and increase comfort by following these simple steps: 1. Look straight ahead Make sure your monitor is directly in front of you at arm's length. When you're working on a document, the top line of text should be just below eye level. Don't forget that if you change the position of your chair, you need to adjust the monitor as well. 2. Keyboard in front Your keyboard should be directly in front of you. Your shoulders should be relaxed with your upper arms free at your sides. Turn your chair sideways to check that your elbow is level with the spacebar for the correct height. 3. Avoid 'mouse shoulder' Putting the mouse too high or too far away means that the upper arm is forced away from the body when you use it. This puts the shoulder in an awkward position and places strain on the muscles. If the position is held for a long period of time, the entire "mouse" side of the body is affected, from the neck to the upper back. Make sure you can use your mouse without stretching and with your elbow comfortably bent. 4. Take care with your chair By law office chairs (those used at workstations) must meet a certain minimum standard. They must be stable - the classic office chair with five legs in star shape. The height must be adjustable with an adjustable seat back in both height and tilt; ideally the seat back should move independently of the seat to allow for a more comfortable position. If you feel you need more support consider a separate back support. When you're seated, your thighs should be at right angles to your body or sloping slightly down. If your chair is properly adjusted your feet should be firmly on the floor, but if it's more comfortable, use a footrest. The basic rule is to plant your feet on the floor and support your back. 5. Keep moving Never forget that the human body is not designed to sit for long periods, even in the best posture. Get up and move around. Shift your position often - at least every 45 minutes, every 20 minutes is even better - and stretch. About Fellowes UK Fellowes UK is based in Doncaster, South Yorkshire and is a subsidiary of Fellowes Inc. headquartered in Itasca, USA. Fellowes offers an impressive range of products to equip the workspace, including paper shredders, binders and laminators, desktop accessories and record storage solutions. With subsidiaries in Canada, Benelux, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, China, Singapore, Japan, Korea and Australia, Fellowes employs more than 2,700 people throughout the world and expects global sales in excess of $700 million this year. For more information, visit www.fellowes.co.uk About BackCare BackCare is an independent national charity that helps people manage and prevent back pain by providing education and information through its publications, telephone helpline and local branches. The charity also funds research and regularly campaigns to raise the profile of issues surrounding back pain. For further information, please visit www.backcare.org.uk Back pain is the nation’s leading cause of disability with 1.1 million sufferers experiencing some form of back pain each year. Department of Health statistics have estimated that back pain is costing the British industry an annual £5 billion and the NHS £481 million each year. Recent research has concluded that children are also experiencing various forms of back pain. 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