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San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Blue Shield of California: Good to Know


September 8, 2011    |    Volume 5, Issue 9    |    |    Contact Us


Workplace Ergonomics

The goal of office ergonomics (er-guh-NOM-iks) is to reduce your risk of injury by adapting your workspace to fit you. Did you know? Working intensely over long periods of time without taking breaks can greatly increase your risk for musculoskeletal injuries.

o Try to take regular breaks from your work. For instance, take 3 to 5 minute breaks or change tasks every 20 to 40 minutes.

o Do stretch exercises or switch to another task.

Why your work area should be ergonomic?

It’s common for injury and illness to happen at work. Both can cost you and your employer time & money. They can also affect how well you do your job.

o Most on the job injuries are caused by:


Repetitive movements

The way you sit or stand (posture)

Bending over, lifting heavy objects, or using pressure or force

Working with vibrating tools

o Office Ergonomics can help lower stress and injury caused by awkward positions and repetitive tasks.

o You may be at greater risk for injuries at work if you have other health problems, such arthritis or emotional stress.

Steps to improve your workstation:

o Arrange your work so you can sit or stand in a position that does NOT put stress on any specific area of your body. Keep your neck in a neutral position and minimize the need to look up or to the sides continuously while you work.

o Take 10 to 15 second breaks frequently throughout your tasks. For example, look away from your computer monitor, stand up, or stretch your arms. Short breaks reduce eyestrain and buildup of muscle tension.

o Eliminate most movement from your waist. Keep the workstation and workstation tools within reach without having to lean, bend, or twist at the waist frequently.

o Stretch your body by getting up out of your chair and stretching your arms, shoulders, back, and legs. When you are sitting, shrug and relax your shoulders.

o Vary postures if possible.

If you do similar work or activities at home, be sure to apply these principles there as well to avoid the cumulative effect of repetitive motions.

Click here to read more steps to improve your workstation.

What can you do if you have a work-related injury?

You can try home treatment for a few days when you first notice symptoms. Try to:

o Rest the painful area and avoid activities that make your pain worse.

o Use ice to reduce pain and swelling. Unless advised not to.

o Take over the counter medicines to relieve pain.

If you’ve tried home treatment for several days in a row and it hasn’t helped, call your doctor. You may need physical therapy or other treatment to prevent more injuries.

You may be able to get more information about workplace safety and ergonomics from your human resources department at work or from California Labor Department.

San Diego Chamber Member companies with 5-50 employees that are not currently subscribing to Blue Shield of California can save on a variety of plan options through the Chamber Blue Shield Program. Be sure to check out and compare Blue Shield Plans when your company is renewing health benefits. Ask your broker about the Chamber Blue Shield Program or click here to be assigned to an agent.

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