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Written by Tracy Trumper   

Wellness in the workplace

“Employees who have not been adequately trained to recognize hazards or understand effective work practices designed to reduce these hazards are at a greater risk of harm. Without proper medical awareness, musculoskeletal disorders signs and symptoms may go unnoticed and unaddressed.” —OSHA

Recognizing hazards and knowing effective work patterns will:

—prevent more severe injuries.

—reduce time away from work.

—possibly reduce health care costs.

—possibly increase productivity or reduce errors because workers are more focused.

—foster a more positive outlook on work and the work environment.

Listen to your body

Recognize the signs and symptoms of fatigue that may result in injury or illness:

—burning, pain or fatigued feeling in muscles and joints.


—dry eyes.


—unability to focus.

When you feel these symptoms you should:

1. Change your working posture by adjusting your workstation. Stand up to work.

2. Use the other hand to perform mouse tasks or use key strokes.

3. Take micro breaks—do stretches for arms, shoulders, wrists/hands, low back, hamstrings, quads.

4. Close your eyes and do deep breathing while stretching.

5. Alternate tasks whenever possible, mixing non-computer tasks within computer time.

6. Maintain neutral body positions: A well-designed and appropriately adjusted desk will provide adequate clearance for your legs, allow proper placement of computer components and accessories, and minimize awkward postures and exertions.

Working postures

The workstation arrangement should allow:

—head and neck to be upright or in line with the torso (not bent down/back).

—head, neck and trunk to face forward (not twisted).

—trunk to be perpendicular to floor (may lean back into backrest but not forward).

—shoulders and upper arms to be in line with the torso, generally about perpendicular to the floor and relaxed (not elevated or stretched forward).

—upper arms and elbows to be close to the body (not extended outward).

—forearms, wrists and hands to be straight and in line (forearm at about 90 degrees to upper arm).

—wrists and hands to be straight (not bent up/down or sideways toward the little finger).

—thighs to be parallel to the floor and the lower legs to be perpendicular to floor (thighs may be slightly elevated above knees).

—feet rest flat on the floor or supported by a stable footrest.

Evaluate the seating and chair for:

—backrest that provides support for your lower back.

—seat width and depth accommodate the specific user (seat pan not too big/small).

—seat front does not press against the back of your knees and lower legs (seat pan not too long).

—seat has cushioning and is rounded with a “waterfall” front.

—armrests, if used, support both forearms while you perform computer tasks and they do not interfere with movement.

Evaluate the monitor for:

—top of the screen is at or below eye level so you can read it without bending your head or neck down/back.

—user with bifocals/trifocals can read the screen without bending the head or neck backward.

—monitor distance allows you to read the screen without leaning your head, neck or trunk forward/backward (at least 20 inches).

—monitor position is directly in front of you so you don’t have to twist your head or neck.

—glare (for example, from windows, lights) is not reflected on your screen, which limits eyestrain by:

1. Placing rows of lights parallel to the line of sight.

2. Use diffusers to limit glare.

3. Take bulbs out to limit brightness.

Evaluate the desk and workstation for:

—thighs have sufficient clearance space between the top of the thighs and your computer table/keyboard platform.

—legs and feet have sufficient clearance space under the work surface so you are able to get close enough to the keyboard/input device.

—document holder is placed about the same height and distance as the monitor screen so there is little head movement, or need to re-focus, when you look from the document to the screen.

—telephone can be used with your head upright (not bent) and your shoulders relaxed (not elevated) if you do computer tasks.

Go to for more information about safety in the workplace and ercise/stretching_exercise.asp for stretches that can be done anytime to help relieve stress and increase flexibility.

Holyoke Enterprise June 13, 2013