Your office job could be killing you. No, we’re not talking about karoshi, or death by overwork, but common disruptive afflictions like backache and sneezing fits. Identify and fix 6 possible office hazards to your health, stat:
1. Poorly positioned mouse
A desk job seems like a pretty harmless occupation when compared to high-rise window cleaners, but an office-bound role could have you clicking your way to repetitive strain injury.
Do this: Ensure your chair arms are level with your desk to support your mouse arm, and avoid slouching while using the mouse. Do not rest your wrists on table edges, as this can cause nerve compression, or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Dust collecting on the carpet and desktop could give you a blocked nose, sneezing fits and skin rash. It can also irritate your eyes and accumulate on your computer screen, decreasing its sharpness, and leading to eye fatigue. In the long run, you might get sinus congestion, allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
Do this: Wet vacuum the carpet around your desk at least once a week as this picks up dust more effectively than dry vacuuming. Alternatively, suggest this to your HR department. As a rule of thumb, if your carpet is more than 10 years old ask for it to be replaced.
3. Ill-fitting desk chair
Deskbound workers are at risk of suffering from musculoskeletal disorders (back and nexk pain). The main culprit: poorly designed office chairs. These may lead to poor sitting posture that increase the amount of load and tension on your spine and muscles, which can lead to spinal nerve compression.
Do this: Choose a good chair that has enough room to allow your buttocks to be positioned comfortably, with space on either side of your hips. It should also have a flexible back rest that provides good support. Other than finding the perfect chair, use the 20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes, stand for 20 seconds and stretch or shake things out.
4. Poor lighting
If there’s sunlight hitting your computer screen, the glare will force your eyes to work harder to focus, causing them to be dry and tired. Those working late into the night under bright lights may also experience the effects of over-illumination, which can suppress the production of melatonin and disrupt your sleep cycle.
Do this: Every 45 minutes, turn away from your screen to look at something far away or close your eyes for a minute or two. Also, if you’re squinting while using your computer, it’s a sign that the screen is too bright.
5. Poor ventilation
Are your office windows sealed? When a room isn’t well ventilated, it plays havoc on the air around you – it’ll be freezing if you’re right under the aircon duct but stuffy and humid if you’re seated in the corner. This can lead to dry coughs, itchy eyes and skin rash.
Do this: Place a small fan at your desk to get the air circulating, or open your windows every now and then to let fresh air in.
6. Disorganised desk
If you have to stretch to reach items like your keyboard and phone, you might strain your shoulders. Repeated strain can cause neck ache, elbow and shoulder pain, and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, which include numbness and weakness of the fingers.
Do this: Place items that you frequently use, such as your phone and stationery, close to you so they can be easily reached. Items that you only need now and then can be placed slightly further away.
(This story was adapted from The Finder / Additional reporting: Natalya Molok)