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What Poor Posture is really Costing your Workplace

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It is estimated that back injuries account for as many as one in every five injuries in the workplace; a significant statistic when you consider that back pain, amongst other common office ailments such as repetitive strain injury and workplace related stress, commonly result in lost time, decreased productivity, declining employee health levels and overall higher costs.

Posture is a blanket term that covers, in its most basic form, how we hold our bodies. At a more complex level posture is the involvement and engagement of muscles, joints, bones and ligaments that help us hold positions. Poor posture is what results from our daily activities, how we sit and stand, which leads to certain postural muscles tightening up, and others becoming weak.

Staff are an expensive asset to a business and the cost of prolonged bad posture is bad news for a workplace - it’s effects on employee health, happiness and productivity can be profound. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) for example can reduce a worker productivity to around a third and can be difficult to cure once it has started. Likewise an unsupported back can cause an injury resulting in weeks off work; the cost of education in healthy posture pale in comparison to the potential hefty costs of workers compensation, sick leave and replacement staff. Neck pain is another common ailment that can be easily reduced with posture education and some investment in ergonomic furniture, often prevented all-together.

There are many excellent resources available online published by governments and other groups to give people a good understanding of healthy posture and alignment. Even if you encourage and practice excellent posture at the office desk, this isn’t enough - postural muscles need to be used regularly and be exercised. Office workers especially need to be getting up and moving around. Providing standing desks and other alternative environments that allow workers to continue working while still changing position and refreshing their body allow people to work for extended periods and remain productive; workers can cycle through the various environments as they go about their working day.

Developing a positive approach to posture and providing employees with access to information, exercises, regular breaks to move around and ergonomically designed furniture are all effective ways to break the cycle of the bad posture. There are many options when it comes to furniture such as height-adjustable desks, chairs and monitor arms. Many office-workers develop bad posture and pain over many hours, months and years of sitting at a computer. A number of recent studies have shown the benefits of understanding that different parts of a job require differ tools and environments - are people frequently craning their necks talking into a phone? Try providing neck-friendly headsets. Alternatively, integrate a tablet arm into the workspace of an employee who spends a lot of their time in video conferences on an iPad.

Promoting good posture and physical well-being in your work space is a small investment of time and money compared to the potential losses of having injured team members. Productivity improves when workers have the ability to change their working environment. And, of course, having a working environment where people can see effort has been put into employee wellbeing will help net the best quality staff for your organisation. Ensuring you have a safe and comfortable workplace with effective workers, who aren’t distracted by pain and discomfort, will give your business a competitive edge.


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