Green Ergonomic Office (Part 2): Voodoo Ergonomics, Advice from Tony Biafore (a.k.a. The Ergoman)
A "green ergonomic office" can refer to several different things. Today, we are looking at salvaging and reusing your current office equipment, rather than purchasing a whole new set. You may think that new and improved "ergonomic" stuff will vastly improve your office performance and comfort, when in truth, it may not be as much improved as you think.
Tony Biafore of Ergonetics has been in the ergonomic business for 25 years, plus currently contracts with the U.S. Department of Labor to help with their in-house ergonomics program. Tony tells us, "There is no such thing as an ergonomic product—it is all in how you use things."
In other words, a new ergonomic computer mouse used in the same bad position will leave you no better off than the old mouse you'd been using. This is what Tony considers to be the very common misconception of what he likes to call "voodoo ergonomics." VE is the belief that a product alone can be a fix-all for such office related ailments. Good quality office products can be valuable tools, but you must also know how to use them properly in order to gain the full benefit from them. Tony advises that you must look around your space and take into account how you use things and the positions that you are putting yourself into that could be causing you injury. Some folks continue to try new products and surgeries, but will continue to suffer from these injuries until they actually cure the source of their problem, which many times has more to do with a bad habit than a poor product.
Tony doesn't understand why there isn't more involvement of business office curriculum to ensure that employees are using their office equipment correctly. Especially when you consider that adjusting the operating position of your computer mouse and seating posture will always prove less expensive and easier on the environment than trips to the doctor, insurance payments, surgeries, and countless new product purchases.
Uncle Charlie Factor
Even if you are not currently suffering from these symptoms, it is good practice to give yourself a heads-up and try to avoid any problems in the future. This is what Tony considers to be the "Uncle Charlie Factor." As Tony explained, some Uncle Charlie's can live for 99 years smoking and drinking and never have a problem. While other Uncle Charlie's are not as lucky and suffer a whirlwind of complications from such abuse.
You never know which type you will fall under, so it pays to sometimes take the safe route and follow the proper office equipment guidelines. You can look at the proper use of such office equipment on OSHA's website. It is amazing the difference that a couple inches can make when it comes to proper positioning and your comfort.
The Cure Lies in your Own Actions
Like many technology coerced illnesses today, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) are caused mostly by our own ignorance and lack of information. These ailments can be dealt with safely and effectively if you take a look around your office and make the necessary adjustments to give your body the daily support it needs to make it through a typical eight hour day.
Don't fall into the trap of reading about the newest and greatest office product, when the office equipment you currently own is probably more than adequate as long as you are using them correctly and effectively. Health is our most valuable asset and when the choice is put into your own hands. I hope you choose to take your health seriously and make the move towards a healthier, happier, and more comfortable you.
Learn more about the symptoms of office related injury in Part 1.
More on Office Ergonomics
Work on a Laptop
Hip Office: Ergonomic Workspace for Those on the Go
Think Office Chair