Sunday, December 16, 2007

Five Office Health Hazards

Ergonomic hazards in an office ...

"Desk jockeys beware: The average working environment can take a surprising toll on your health. Here's how to avoid the hazards.

Most of us spend our working hours in environments we can't completely control, whether we're facing a cash register, a client, or a computer screen. And it's important to know that the little and not-so-little annoyances—from dry eyes to rushed lunches—can affect your health. If the prospect of Monday morning and another work day inspires a despairing moan, consider remedies other than quitting. Small adjustments can make a surprising difference in the quality of your day. Here are five of the biggest office health challenges and the best ways to beat them:

1. Sights for Sore Eyes. According to a study reported in the Survey of Ophthalmology, computer users risk tired, red eyes, burning and blurred or double vision. People blink up to 60 percent less often while looking at the screen, causing dry-eye symptoms. The cornea is also sensitive to office hazards like dry air, airborne paper dust and ventilation fans. To protect yourself, look away from the screen and at a distant object at least every 30 minutes. Use eye drops if you feel strain. And if you wear reading glasses and work at a computer more than an hour a day, researchers recommend a pair of glasses especially designed for the distance you normally sit from the screen.

2. A Pain in the Back. Sitting too long in a badly designed office chair can provoke both acute and chronic back pain. So with that in mind, remember your ergonomics. Adjust the height of your chair and keyboard and the distance from the computer screen. (Here are tips for making your workspace more ergonomic.) Psychology also plays a big role in chronic pain, according to a World Health Organization report by rheumatologist George Ehrlich. Back pain can be a sign that you're bored or unhappy at work. If you've adjusted your workstation, try getting more exercise outside work to improve your mood says Ehrlich."    (Continued via Newsweek.com)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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