Ehstoday 1139 Ergoinfographic

Office Workers Face Musculoskeletal Mayhem

April 3, 2013
Combine poor ergonomic habits with hours upon hours of desk work and limited employer-provided ergonomics education or solutions and you have the perfect recipe for musculoskeletal mayhem in the American work force.
Sitting at a desk all day can wreak musculoskeletal mayhem: A new survey reveals that 74 percent of office workers experience pain a few times a week or more while sitting at their desks. Additionally, more 70 percent of respondents endured back pain and more than half felt eyestrain or headaches in the last 3 years. Nearly 10 percent of workers, meanwhile, experience pain all day long while sitting at their desks.

The survey, “Comfort in the Workplace,” examined the ergonomic habits of full-time employees and their exposure to painful musculoskeletal disorders such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

According to survey results, 72 percent of respondents spend 6 or more hours at a desk each day, with 21 percent spending 9 or more hours a day at the desk. All that sitting can lead to painful conditions that workers clearly are trying to avoid: nearly 70 percent adjust or rearrange their workspace at least once a day to get more comfortable, while 18 percent spend 30-60 minutes daily trying to make improvements. The majority of respondents (70 percent) also spend more than 10 minutes a day stretching or fidgeting in an attempt to become more comfortable in their workspace.

Many workers who participated in the survey admitted to taking over-the-counter pain medication (61 percent) or and 15 percent take prescription painkillers (15 percent) in an attempt to chase away the pain.

Only 20 percent of survey respondents stated their company offers employee education and/or training in the ergonomics area. Fewer than 30 percent said their employer provides ergonomic office products – despite the fact that 82 percent of responding employees were interested in using a backrest and 75 percent were interested in using a foot rest at work if the products were provided by the employer.

The survey, conducted by Toluna on behalf of Fellowes Inc., polled 1,000 full-time office employees and self-employed workers in August 2012.

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