Injury Prevention Solutions

Break Reminders: Look, No Equipment Needed

Another way to introduce postural variation into the office workplace is to implement a break policy that requires the worker to step away from the workstation periodically throughout the day, ideally every 20 to 30 min. Traditional breaks – two 15 min and one 30 min – are not sufficient to minimize discomfort at the end of the work shift (Galinsky et al., 2007). Routine rest breaks have been found to be effective in controlling musculoskeletal discomfort of the neck and shoulder for computer work (Goodman et al., 2012Hoe, Urquhart, Kelsall, & Sim, 2012Kennedy et al., 2010). Other researchers have also confirmed that more frequent and routine breaks can improve discomfort without adversely affecting productivity (Dababneh, Swanson, & Shell, 2001Henning, Jacques, Kissel, Sullivan, & Alteras-Webb, 1997).

Power of Postural Variability

The key to better worker health and well-being is encouraging routine movement around the office. Simple actions, such as rearranging the printer relative to the workstation so the worker has to stand up to get the printout, utilizing a reminder to take routine breaks and get out of one’s seat, and going over to talk to a person instead of talking on the phone, will encourage movement while still allowing workers to use their time productively. At the end of the day, having a culture that encourages breaks will be more successful in reducing symptoms of musculoskeletal discomfort for workers. Then, everyone can return home pain-free.

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