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June 28, 2017 06:35 PM

Staying Straight On Office Ergonomics

Sioux Falls

Most of us spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer screen, working at a desk. If you are one of those people, do you ever notice body aches or muscle pains at the end of the day?

Like most of us, Senior Administrative Assistant Carla Thomsen spends about 9 hours a day, 5 days a week sitting at a desk. 

"I had some shoulder discomfort and I noticed what a lot of people do around the office with the shoulders that I never ever had an experience with before," Thomsen said

Who knew such a mindless task like sitting could lead to major problems you don't do it correctly?

Sanford Injury Prevention Expert Sandi Sorum travels to offices all over the state doing employee ergonomic assessments with the goal of preventing injuries. 

"I assess their posture, their equipment. I assess if they are taking the needed breaks. I assess if they are up and moving frequently enough," Sorum said. 

In fact, a lot goes into making sure an employee is sitting properly at their desk to help avoid aches and pains that can come from sitting for long periods of time.

"Simply put, if you have your chin, your forearms and your thighs parallel to the floor, we know you are doing pretty well," Sorum said.

Sorum says she will check everything from the lumbar support of a chair to the depth of the seat cushion.

"When we have muscle tension and that muscle tension builds day after day, week after week, month after month, that can lead to injury," Sorum said.

Thomsen who has been working in her office for almost 20 years says she never realized she wasn't positioned correctly at her desk.

"The first thing I will adjust are my feet because I would have never thought I needed a lift on my feet to get them elevated," Thomsen said.

Sorum says years of research have proven sitting for extended amounts of time in a chair that's not designed properly can endanger worker's health and lower their productivity. Sorum says not all chairs that are labeled as ergonomic are actually ergonomic, she says employers should do their research when purchasing chairs. 

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