Office workers in today's modern workplace perform a majority of their work at a desk. A poorly designed workstation can lead to a number of muskuloskeletal disorders (MSDs) through cumulative trauma. Cumulative trauma is defined as repeated application of force to a structure that tends to wear down a structure beyond its tolerance limit. This cumulative trauma can lead to inflammation and swelling of tendons and muscles, reduced motion, strength, mobility and microtrauma of muscle fibres resulting in partial tears. The result is often back and neck pain with researchers estimating that 95% starts through inactivity instead of excessive demand.
Work performed in a seated position puts the worker at greater risk of spine loading and damage, while prolonged standing may result in static overload. In a 2002 study; researchers found relationships between certain static postures while sitting at a workstation and the development of MSDs.
There is an abundance of statistical data reflecting the severity of the MSDs issue in the workplace. According to 'Safe Work Australia - Key Work Health and Safety Statistics 2012', the most common work-related injuries were sprains and strains, at 43% of all serious claims. Safe Work Australia has identified MSDs as a high priority disease group. The '2009-2010 ABS Work Related Injuries' report lists sprains/strains and chronic joint or muscle conditions as the most commonly reported work-related injury or illness sustained across the majority of industries. It is estimated that the total cost of MSDs is 20 billion dollars annually.
The good news is that it is possible to minimise or eliminate work-related injuries to the musculoskeletal system through redesign of a workstation. An ergonomically designed workstation can enhance worker physical and mental well being, job satisfaction and safety.
As highlighted in the 2006 'Worksafe - Officewise - A guide to health & safety in the office', "electric height adjustment of the workstation is most appropriate". Researchers claim that allowing workers to alternate between sitting and standing and hence changing working postures during prolonged work can have significant beneficial effects on the productivity and health of the worker.
The provision of an electric height adjustable sit to stand desk as a single stand alone control measure is not advisable. Other factors such as ensuring the appropriate use of a sit to stand desk including training and monitoring, provision of appropriate ergonomic seating, lighting and glare inside the office, all play important roles in addressing the issue with a holistic approach. For example, administrative controls such the promotion of regular walking breaks is also important.
However, in many workplace scenarios, the opportunity for workers to take regular walks and breaks is not a viable option. Even in positions where autonomy and freedom is high, a worker may have an important deadline to meet, which may force the worker to spend excessive amounts of time at a desk without the opportunity for a break. In these scenarios, an electric height adjustable Alpha sit to stand desk allows the individual to quickly, quietly and smoothly, change posture from sitting to standing. This can result in a healthier and happier life; priceless!
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