In contrast to occupations involving heavy machinery or exposure to the elements, desk jobs present a lower risk to employees. But there are downsides to living a sedentary lifestyle and performing repetitive work at a desk all day. In addition, many people falsely believe that office-related injuries do not qualify for workers’ compensation.
Approximately 86% of Americans spend their weekdays working behind a desk. Many of these workers then go home and sit some more, whether in front of their television, computer, or car. But prolonged sitting can have serious consequences, especially if done in an incorrect position.
Repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome
A repetitive strain injury (RSI) occurs when parts of the body suffer an injury caused by repetitive motions and constant use.
Many office workers have to type and click on their mouse for hours daily. Depending on how someone sits, they may be putting pressure around the nerves between the wrist and hand, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries in the workplace are often the results of poor ergonomics and incorrect posture. Here are some ways to prevent RSI in the workplace:
- Relax grip when using a mouse or other hand-held devices
- Position the computer monitor so that it is at eye level
- Choose a mouse that fits well in the hands
- Keep wrists in a neutral position without flexing or stretching
- Take breaks often and practice hand and wrist exercises
Long periods of sitting, particularly in an uncomfortable position, can strain the muscles and the spine, resulting in pain that develops into a musculoskeletal disorder. However, many employees ignore their body’s warning signs and push through the pain to finish the day.
By disregarding their desk setup or posture, many office workers may eventually get chronic back pain or neck discomfort. It comes as no surprise that 80% of Americans suffer from back discomfort at some point in their life.
Employees may qualify for workers’ compensation if the pain from carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury, or persistent back pain prohibits them from working. But it is best for employees not to wait until their symptoms have worsened. Requesting an ergonomic computer mouse or desk chair from the company and exercising the right to a break are good places to start.