Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dangers abound if you work at home

Ergonomics tips for working from home office ...

"It has come to our attention here at WHOA that a growing number of Americans work at home, partly because high gasoline prices discourage commuting and partly because workers are tired of getting dressed in the morning.

WHOA warns all Americans that home offices have their dangers, same as other workplaces. Hazards often are overlooked because there is no direct management supervision. While this lack of supervision may make workers "happy," it also means there's no one to enforce safety regulations or say "put that down before you hurt yourself."

People who work at home may not practice proper "ergonomics" (from the Latin for "hunchback"). They use desks and/or chairs purchased at rummage sales and slapped together any old which-way rather than government-approved, adjustable office furniture designed to enforce proper posture. This can result in long-term health issues and bad vibes.

Research has shown that these are the top 10 injuries suffered by at-home workers:

1. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a severe nerve problem in the wrists caused by improper computer "keyboarding" and mouse usage. Make sure your chair and computer are properly aligned so that you maintain a "wide stance." Repetitive motions, such as those used to play Guitar Hero, should be avoided.

2. Eating and drinking at your desk is hazardous, particularly if hot coffee is involved. Not only can injury result, but studies have found that eating chips and salsa over your keyboard can result in computer failure.

3. Paper cuts are common and can be quite painful, especially if you get salt and/or salsa in the wounds. Workers should always wear gloves.

4. Bruises result from inadvertently whamming knees and elbows into your desk or other immovable objects in the home office. Safety tip: Sit still.

5. Many at-home workers fall afoul of fasteners such as staples, paper clips and thumbtacks. These metal objects will pierce the skin, and infection can result. Scotch tape is recommended for all applications.

6. Rubber bands, placed under too much strain, can snap and give the user painful "hickeys."

7. Beware the paper shredder.

8. Many home-office accidents result from workers standing on swivel chairs or other inappropriate places in attempts to reach high shelves or change light bulbs. This behavior should be avoided. Keep office supplies and other items on the down-low to avoid overreaching."    (Continued via Redding Record Searchlight, Steve Brewer)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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