Monday, 12 December 2011

Who'll be stringing up the Christmas lights at work this Christmas?

Ahh the festivities..Secret Santa's, candy canes and merriment all round. Christmas can be such a fun time of year in homes and workplaces across the country! Here are a few safety tips to keep everyone smiling:

1. Carrying heavy gifts and boxes of decorations? 
Use a trolley where you can, or divide up the load into smaller bundles.

2. Hanging up tinsel and other pretty decorations in the office?
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT stand on a swivel chair! Ladders and step stools have been made for a reason. Use them!!

3. Gift giving time?
Pick up wrapping paper and ribbon from the floor - no one likes a slip hazard!

4. You don't like your gift?
Don't throw it back at the gift giver. Eye injuries are never fun.

So there it is.. have a safe and happy Christmas, and see you again in the new year!


1300 820 877

Monday, 28 November 2011

Ergonomic humour

Here's a funny take on a serious topic!

Picking up on common bad habits is a great start to improving the way you sit (and feel) when at work. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of training and education in the good, bad and ugly bits of work posture and ergonomics.

Contact Get Ergonised today to book in training sessions or ergonomic assessments for the new year so that you can start the year feeling comfortable at work, and stay that way!

1300 820 877

Monday, 14 November 2011

Harmonising Work Health & Safety across Australia

As of 1 January 2012, Commonwealth, States and Territories have agreed to implement nationally harmonised WH&S (work health & safety) Legislation.

This means that from next year, a person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure work health and safety, and will have a duty to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking. 

These duties include requiring, so far as is reasonably practicable: 

the provision and maintenance of a work environment that is without risks to health or safety 
• the provision and maintenance of safe plant, structures and safe systems of work
• the safe use, handling-including transport-and storage of plant, structures and substances
• the provision of any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking
• the provision of, and access to, adequate facilities for the welfare of workers at the workplace, and 
• the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace are monitored for the purpose of preventing work-related illness or injury

The duties to ensure health and safety require persons conducting business or undertakings to eliminate the risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable. If this is not possible, they must minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

What does ‘reasonably practicable’ mean?

Work health and safety duties, other than duties of officers, workers and other persons at the workplace, apply so far as is ‘reasonably practicable’.  ‘Reasonably practicable’ represents what can reasonably be done in the circumstances. This means that the duty holders must satisfy the duties as far as they are reasonably able to, taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters, including:

• the likelihood of the relevant hazard or risk occurring
• the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk
• what the person knows, or ought reasonably to know, about the hazard or risk and the ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, and
• the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk. 

Only after assessing these matters can the cost of eliminating or minimising the risk be taken into account, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to (significantly outweighs) the risk. 

*source: Safe Work Australia

For office based workers, the use of preventative ergonomic assessments will be a valuable and reasonably practicable tool in monitoring the health health of workers and the conditions at the workplace are monitored for the purpose of preventing work-related illness or injury, and to help in creating a safe work environment

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween - scary statistics!

Studies have shown that 8 out of 10 computer-using employees will suffer soft tissue injuries, and 2 out of 10 will suffer pain continuously as a direct result of using a computer for a large part of the working day. 

Will you become a statistic? 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2009-10, about 640,700 people (5.3% of the 12 million people employed at some time in the last 12 months) experienced a work-related injury or illness. Among the 284,300 women who experienced work-related injuries or illnesses 24% were Professionals.

The most commonly reported injuries or illnesses were sprains and strains (30%), followed by chronic joint or muscle conditions (18%), and cuts or open wounds (16%). 

Around 30% of persons who worked at some time in the last 12 months had not received formal training in occupational health and safety risks in the workplace. 

The direct cost of workplace injury can include medical expenses and increases to worker's compensation premiums. However, indirect costs can also add up through increased employee turnover, higher absenteeism and retraining expenses. Not to forget decreased productivity, work quality and low employee morale. Preventing and controlling ergonomic risk factors often cost a fraction of what one worker's compensation claim can cost. Prehab is better than rehab. 

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Office Breakup

Sometimes written word is not necessary.. check out the office breakup series from

What will you be telling your chair tomorrow?

Monday, 10 October 2011

iPad a pain in the neck?

Have you joined the recent iPad revolution? Spending hours on the train, couch or sitting in bed with your head hunched over the marvellous new technology?

I use an iPad when completing ergonomic assessments. It's part of my paper-free policy. It's a great time-saver and looks professional, but I do have to admit that I do get a bit sore if I have a full day of assessments, or if I have to walk between appointments with the iPad in my handbag. The sustained neck flexion and hunching of shoulders while tapping away with the iPad on my lap or on a desk isn't the best example of ergonomics, though not so dissimilar to writing with pen and paper.

How to overcome this?

  • I've started putting the iPad in my small trolley bag which contains by ergonomic equipment samples. This has made a huge difference by not having the extra weight in my handbag.
  • Using the angled iPad case tilts the screen towards me, which results in less hunching over, and I try to use a desk wherever possible to elevate the iPad higher than my lap. 

Check out this article from the Herald Sun about iPad use:

iPad neck - ergonomics experts warn of tablet injury

THE rise of the iPad could prove to be a serious pain in the neck if its ergonomic failings are not addressed, experts warn.
Light, portable and convenient, the tablet device is tipped to replace textbooks in classrooms and may eventually take over the domain of the laptop computer.
But the posture adopted by users could put them at risk of chronic neck and shoulder pain.
"Any activity where you hold your head forward in a flexed or bent position for a prolonged period of time is going to cause neck issues," said Dr Jodi Oakman, a senior lecturer at La Trobe University's Centre for Ergonomics & Human Factors.
The damage caused could take a long time to heal, she warned, with the risk to young children particularly disturbing.
"There's no empirical research on the iPad, but we can make a pretty good assumption based on tissue studies what's going to happen," Dr Oakman said.
Victorian school- and pre-school-aged children, some as young as three, are using iPads as a learning tool as part of a State Government trial.
"Do we really want all this exposure to bad posture in the younger generation?"
Dr Oakman said while the iPad solved some problems for school children — it is cheaper, lighter and easier to carry than a laptop — it created others and should be approached with caution.
"It's a new technology that we are quick to embrace, but we don't actually know what musco-skeletal problems might be attributed to it."
She said the key to avoiding injury was to "move more, vary your positions as much as possible and, if you want to use the iPad as a typing device, use a separate keyboard".
While using the iPad as a reading device was no more risky than reading a book, she said, the danger arose when users turned to the tablet for an increasing number of tasks.
"Don't use it to replace the computer unless you give serious consideration to how the work station is set up," she said.
Massage therapist Liz Astling said she noticed an onslaught of neck pain in her clients when the iPad hit the market last year — "especially men getting really obsessed with it and not wanting to put it down."
One client, she said, had an ergonomic keyboard fitted to his computer at work and his symptoms were improving — until he started using an iPad, when the neck and shoulder pain returned.
"Across the board, people who've not necessarily had a lot of neck pain in the past are getting these symptoms," she said.
"I ask them if they have an iPad and they start telling me how wonderful it is."
Ms Astling said the iPad should receive the same ergonomic attention as the desktop computer did a decade ago, when she saw a similar pattern in her practice.
"I think it needs research," she said.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Get organised to get ergonised

What type of desktop do you have? I'm not talking computer screens here.. what kind of desk top do you have? Is it neat and organised or full of piled up folders, 4 empty mugs of coffee, Post-Its galore and a pen... somewhere?

It's often said that it is good practice to tidy your desk at the end of every day so that you can start the next day with a clean desk. I suppose it can almost be compared to washing up dishes at night. I like to have everything washed and wiped down, so that the next morning I don't have the heavy feeling of having to get through a pile of things before the new day has even begun! Surely greeting the work day with piles of folders and files suffocating your desk can't be a good thing. Not for the mind... nor for the body.

You've probably gathered by now, from monthly ergo tips on Facebook and these blogs, that extended reaching to get things off your desk can put extra strain on your shoulders, neck and back. Now imagine reaching out and holding that position for a minute or so while rummaging through piles of paperwork on your desk. More often than not, people plant their feet on the floor below their keyboard and twist in their seat to reach to the right or left of their desk. This can place a great deal of strain on the spine, especially if the end result is to lift up a heavy folder. So.. what can be done?

Organise your desk into different Work Zones...

1. Computer zone: Usually in the centre of the desk, the computer zone contains the keyboard, mouse and monitor.

2. Phone zone: Place the phone within an arm's reach, and in the area that you use it most. For example, if you always turn towards the partition for privacy, keep the phone on that side of the desk. However if you tend to write notes while on the phone, have adequate space near the phone for a notepad, and make sure you have clear leg room under the desk.

3. Paperwork zone: If you need to read or write notes at work, have a section of your desk allocated for that task. This would be the best place to put desk trays or a shelf for easy access of materials. The more things that you can offload from your desk to easily accessible areas, the more your body, and mind, will thank you.

How about you organise your desk today!

Monday, 26 September 2011

It’s just a chair right? What to look for in a good chair

Office chairs... office chairs... office chairs.. *sigh*

So many 'ergonomic' chairs advertised, so many ergonomic horrors in reality!

Here are some tips in choosing a chair that is good for you:

It's Comfortable:

Above all else, the chair should be comfortable for you, with enough padding to stop you from feeling the base or backrest frame.

It's Adjustable:

Look for adjustment mechanisms for chair height, backrest height and backrest tilt. The more adjustments possible, the easier it'll be to fit the chair to you (although having more than 5 adjustment options just becomes confusing).

It's Supportive:

Similar to car seats, some office chairs have a nicely defined lumbar support, and some have none at all. Find a chair that has a gentle lumbar support within the backrest - it's important to be supported, but not be pushed out of the chair by a massive bump on the backrest! A medium back chair usually suffices for most people, unless they are very tall, in which case a high back chair could be more beneficial.


Some people can't live without them, whilst others can't stand them. I tend to fall into the latter group. Armrests = leaning, and leaning = poor spinal alignment and increased pressure through elbow and shoulder. For those armrests lovers out there.. as a compromise, find a chair with height adjustable armrests, and position them to the lowest setting. This will enable the armrests to be there for assisting you to get on and off the chair, but will be too low for leaning easily and won't hinder the chair seat's ability to get under the desk properly.

Got any office chair related questions?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Meet you at the water cooler – The importance of regular pause breaks from computer work

We weren't designed to sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day. We were made to move around and be mobile. Even with an amazingly ergonomic workstation setup, it still does not make up for the fact that most people limit their movement to periods between sleeping (8 hours), travelling (2 hours), eating (1.5 hours), working (8 hours) and unwinding at home infront of the TV or computer (2-4 hours). Doesn't leave much movement time does it?

No matter how perfect your work environment, prolonged static postures will inhibit blood circulation and take a toll on your body.When muscles remain stationary, circulation decreases, muscles get tired, and tasks become more uncomfortable to perform. Not to mention the follow on effects of feeling lethargic and decreased concentration.

Here are some tips to get you moving at work:
  • Take short 1-2 minute stretch breaks every 30 minutes
  • After each hour of work, take a break or change tasks for at least 5-10 minutes
  • Always try to get away from your computer during lunch breaks, even if to take a short walk around the block
  • If your printer is on your desk, print to another printer in the office which will force you to walk to get printouts
  • Fill a glass of water rather than a jug or large bottle of water. This will encourage more trips to the water cooler / kitchen for refills
  • Walk over to colleagues to talk to them rather than email or instant message
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift (if you work on the 20th floor, perhaps get out at level 15 and take the stairs for the rest of the way.. gradually increase flights of stairs as able)
There are many more ways to build incidental movement into your work day. What others can you think of?

Monday, 5 September 2011

Bend and Stretch, but don't reach for those files!

Whenever I complete an ergonomic assessment, I run through the general principals of ergonomics:
  • Keep things that are used constantly within a forearm reach (with elbows by sides)
  • Keep things that are used frequently within an arm's reach
  • Move things that are rarely used outside that zone.. but make sure you move yourself to access them
Most peoples' reaction to that is 'But stretching is good!'. Yes, conscious stretching is good. During stretch classes your mind is on stretching... the way your muscles are lengthening... the feeling of the movement your body is making. When at work, your mind is on work.

People often plant their feet on the floor below the keyboard, and reach out to the side, or up, or back behind them... without any thought to the positions they are placing their bodies or the strain on their spine and shoulders. Repetitive movements similar to these, over time, can cause repetitive strain type injuries. These are injuries that can take months or even years to recover!

Preventing these types of injuries is a matter of changing a habit.
  • Instead of over-reaching to access something on or near your desk.. use your chair to shift yourself closer to that item
  • Instead of side-reaching, swivel in your seat and face your Nose and Toes in the same direction as the activity
  • To reduce the strain on your shoulders from getting heavy files from a shelf above your desk, make it a rule to stand to access anything that is above shoulder height when you are sitting
Use Post-It notes as personal reminders to improve your accessing items technique!

Start a Posture Reminder Brigade and watch out for your colleagues!

Most of all, keep your stretching for exercise classes!!

Monday, 29 August 2011

FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL: Here's looking at you kid! Ways to relieve eye strain

How many times have you been staring at your computer screen only to have to keep rubbing your sore and tired eyes? Eye strain is becoming more commonplace as companies move to become 'paper-free'. With everything you need on a computer screen, and monitors becoming bigger and brighter, increasing reports of eye strain is no surprise. It can result in physical fatigue, eye twitching, decreased productivity and increased numbers of work errors.

Here are some tips to reduce eye strain:

1. Give your eyes a break! Eyes are one part of the body that don't get much down-time during the day. Luckily there are more than one set of muscles that move the eye, so you can give one set a break by using another. Try shifting your focus from close objects (computer screen) to distant objects (out the window or across the office) regularly. Who knew that staring out the window when at work could be a good thing!

2. Reduce glare: From overhead lighting, to sunlight coming in from the window, glare off the computer screen could be a reason for that burning and tired sensation in your eyes! Try using window blinds to block the direct light, angling the screen so that it is at a 90 degree angle to a side-light source, or tilting the screen to reduce the glare from overhead lights. Where possible, read reports and long emails off paper instead of the computer screen.

3. Adjust the contrast: Make sure the brightness of the screen isn't excessive in comparison to the light in the area around the computer (think of this like looking at a bright screen in a dark room). While increased contrast on the screen will make things easier to read, the lighting in the room should be at a moderate level to balance this out. Also make sure the font size is comfortable for you to read without squinting or craning your neck to view.

4. BLINK! Studies show that people blink 5 times less frequently when working at a computer. To reduce your risk of dry eyes during computer use, try this exercise: Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This will help keep your eyes moist.

5. Step away from the computer... Many people do not take their allocated meal and tea breaks, instead sit for 7 - 8 hours a day. Taking 5 minute 'mini-breaks' away from the desk can assist in relieving eye-strain, as well as neck, back and shoulder pain, and can actually increase productivity!

If all else fails - get an eye examination from an Optometrist. You may need glasses or a change in prescription.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Office Chairs Aren't Lounges

Are you a Slumper?

Check your sitting posture right now.. Is your back in contact with the backrest of your chair? Is your bottom at the very back of the seat? Are your feet flat on the floor or footrest? Are you even sitting on a standard office chair with swivel and adjustable footrest?

If you answered no to any of these questions you are very likely making your body sore without even realising it! When you sit with your hips lower than your knees or your bottom forward from under your shoulders, your pelvis tilts backwards and your body slumps. This then leads to your low back arching backward and your upper back and neck compensating by arching forward. Not so comfortable right? Not sitting upright in a supportive chair can bring on different area of pain in different people. One person may experience low back pain, while another may get neck pain or headaches.

Posture is simply a habit you develop, so to improve your sitting posture, give yourself little reminders such as post-it notes that you can stick onto your monitor that reads: Sit Up! or Sit Straight! It may not give you perfect posture all the time, but if you adjust yourself to an upright sitting posture every time you see the note, it'll definitely be a move in the right direction!