OSHA Straightens Up, Issues Plan to Curb Strain Injuries
Posted February 18, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — Each year, half a million people are injured on the job. Friday, the federal government announced plans to cut down on injuries includingcarpal tunnel syndromeand back strain.
TheOccupational Safety and Health Administrationhas issued a draft of national standards for ergonomics.
The rules are aimed primarily at industrial jobs, but office workers who perform tasks that require repetitive motions such as operating a computer keyboard could be included.
The rules would require employers to alter work stations, redesign facilities or change tools to reduce the risk of workers being injured on the job.
Page Page spends her entire day in front of a computer screen. The long hours and repetitive motions make her vulnerable to neck, wrist and back strain.
"You're kind of doing this a lot, and you don't have this nice, ergonomic angle to it. So, I think I notice that the most, and sometimes your neck when you're looking up," said Page.
Frank Fields from theHealthy Back Storeis installing an ergonomic workstation in Page's office.
"Just take it wherever you want it, and when you're ready to, put it away," said Fields.
An adjustable, retractable keyboard tray should reduce the strain on Page's wrists. An ergonomic chair supports her back.
"It's just more comfortable for me, because we spend, at least, more than eight hours a day working at the computer, typing and surfing the Internet," said Page.
"And when you pull up to a desk and you have a keyboard on top of your desk, then those 90 degree angles you're trying to achieve in your elbows, you no longer have that," said Fields.
Fields knows when it comes to office furniture, one size does not fit all.
"An ergonomic chair should be adjusted so it fits the person sitting in it. The person who is sitting in it shouldn't have to adjust to their chair," said Fields who helps companies and their employees work safely and more comfortably.
"Any articulating joints such as elbows, wrists or shoulders should be at 90 to 100 degrees," said Fields.
If you'd like to take a closer look at OSHA's new ergonomics proposal, visit their Web site.