If you are in charge of a large office facility with a number of employees, one of your responsibilities will be to ensure that each staff member can perform their job efficiently and safely. An uninitiated observer may wonder how an office environment like this could possibly be 'unsafe', but you know through experience that injuries can and do occur. Sometimes, it's difficult to get to the bottom of such incidents, especially if they were not caused by one specific event. In that case, you may need to call in an expert to help you investigate what's going on, so you can help the individual in question recover and make sure that this situation does not arise again. What are the biggest challenges in an office like this?
Looking at Your Setup
Your facility may have a number of workstations that were configured many years ago and haven't really been updated. Certainly, you may have replaced some of the desks and chairs and upgraded to better technology, but have you conducted a proper ergonomic assessment? This involves having a detailed look at how the person who sits in that workstation interacts with the equipment and the environment in their immediate vicinity. Much attention will be paid to the seating position and the configuration of their workstation, as this may be behind any reported injury.
The Role of the Consultant
To help you unravel all of this, it's good to bring in an injury management consultant who may also double as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist and will trigger the investigation. To begin with, they will meet with the immediate management as well as the employee or employees who have reported the injury. They will want to know if the injured party had any previous limitations or existing physical disabilities and will then carefully study the ergonomic setup.
There are many different factors involved here, including the height of the chair and its design, the distance to the workstation and the ultimate position of the monitor. Maybe the station would benefit from a footrest or some additional leg space beneath the desk, but the investigator may be more concerned with how the employee performs their work, to see what recommendations need to be made.
In particular, an ergonomic assessment will look at any complaints associated with prolonged sitting or desk duties, or interaction with the mouse and keyboard. Often, these are due to repetitive tasks, poor posture or extended work without a break.
Starting Your Investigation
Bring in an investigator to help you and your staff become more productive and you will hopefully cut down on the losses caused by injury.