Regardless of the work performed or the time spent in front of an office computer, workers whose workstations suffer from poor design may be more at risk for developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the neck and upper extremities.
According to a recent study published in the journal Occupational Medicine that looked at general office workers, customer service workers and designers, the workers who were most apt to report pain associated with MSDs were not the ones who spent the most time using a mouse or working with a keyboard, but the workers who said their workstation design was poor.
Workers from 56 workplaces were surveyed for the study over a 12 month period. The goal of the researchers was to estimate the prevalence of MSDs among full-time workers who used computers in office environments and how that prevalence related to other work factors like job performed, workstation design and time spent computing. Symptoms of MSDs were most commonly reported to be in the respondents’ necks (63 percent), followed by lower arms and wrists (35 percent) and shoulders (24 percent).
Ultimately, the researchers concluded that while symptoms associated with MSDs were common among all workers in office environments, the amount of time spent using a computer keyboard or a mouse had “no connection with musculoskeletal symptoms.” The researchers recommended improving ergonomics and decreasing the risk of developing MSDs by increasing the focus on workstation design, including keyboard and mouse placement, and by improving postures while using the computer.
Source: Occupational Medicine