The Importance of Using Proper Body Mechanics at Work

The Importance of Following Body Mechanics Principles in the Workplace

Maintaining proper body mechanics at work is essential to employee wellness.  There are four body mechanics principles that every employee should be following.  What are the principles of body mechanics?  They include:

  • Maintaining a stable center of gravity
  • Maintaining a wide base of support
  • Maintaining a line of gravity
  • Maintaining proper body alignment

When these principles of body mechanics are followed, employees experience less injury at work and are more productive.  Following body mechanics principles will reduce stress and strain on the body and produce safe and effective moment.  We discuss the proper use of the principles of body mechanics in the workplace.

Guidelines for Proper Body Mechanics at Work

Using proper body mechanics includes:

  • Lifting With the Knees
  • Maintaining Good Posture While Sitting
  • Standing With Feet Apart
  • Aligning The Body When Moving or Turning
  • Avoiding Sitting for Hours on End

The principles of good body mechanics at work are important to understand for all employees. The use of correct body mechanics is needed to help prevent serious injury and help employees experience a much better quality of life. When we have poor body mechanics, our spinal structures begin to break down from abnormal stresses on our body.  Employees need to be acutely aware of their bodies and movements to begin making improvements.

Related resource: Top 15 Master’s in Human Factors and Ergonomics

1. Lift With the Knees

good body mechanics are critical for safety in the workplace

This is fairly common knowledge but worth reiterating. When lifting heavy objects, employees should make sure they lift with their knees, not their backs. Lifting is a movement that puts the back, particularly the lower back, at great risk of injury. Lifting with the arm and leg muscles helps mitigate this risk and ensures proper body mechanics. Employees should also have their knees bent and lift the object towards their chest. Lifting from a position where the person is leaning forward increases the likelihood of losing balance and falling. Poor body mechanics when lifting can result in serious injury, particularly if the heavy object that was being lifted falls on the person.

Health care facilities have their own set of lifting challenges.  When patients need to be lifted, how should employees and patients move their feet to maintain proper body mechanics?  The rules of body mechanics are the same.  It’s important to always face the person (or object) you are moving.  Employees should pivot their feet instead of twisting their body.  The shoulders, hips, and toes should all be pointing the same direction.  When transferring an individual from their wheelchair, employees should make sure they move their entire body in the direction of the transfer.

2. Maintain Good Posture While Sitting

Maintain Good Posture While Sitting at the work place

Many employees sit for long periods of time during the day, so it’s important to maintain proper posture when doing so. This can be difficult to do, as HuffPost points out that posture often follows attention. An employee is therefore more likely to slump forward and have poor posture when paying attention to what they are typing on a keyboard. Employees should place both feet flat on the floor, sitting as far back on the seat as possible. They should sit up straight, keep their shoulders back and their chests lifted. These posture principles help prevent musculoskeletal issues. Stress can cause the jaw to clench so lifting and unclenching the jaw helps too, particularly to prevent headaches.

3. Stand with Feet Apart

 Stand with Feet Apart while at the work place

Standing with the feet apart, especially with one foot slightly in front of the other, is useful in many different scenarios while on the job. Doing this helps ensure the spine remains straightened and prevents pressure from being put on the internal organs. It also helps employees find their center of gravity so they are less likely to lose their balance and fall. This posture can also function as a confidence booster, pumping employees up mentally for a stressful task they need to do such as negotiating an important contract or asking for a raise.

4. Align the Body When Moving or Turning

Align the Body When Moving or Turning while in the work place

A common mistake employees make against the principles of using proper body mechanics at work is jerking around too quickly. This can cause muscle strain or disc problems in the neck or back. A good way to remedy this is to ensure the various parts of the body, especially the head, neck, back and pelvis, are aligned when moving or turning. This helps prevent pulled muscles, muscle fatigue pinched nerves and herniated discs. It is important not to twist at the waist, especially when lifting or carrying a heavy object.

Trips, slips and falls are the most common workplace injuries.  Workplace injuries related to moving or turning may cause hours of lost productivity due to medical or physical therapy appointments.

5. Avoid Sitting for Hours on End

avoid sitting for hours when at the work place

As previously mentioned, most office jobs require employees to sit at a desk throughout the workday. Evidence has piled up that living a sedentary lifestyle drastically increases the risk of developing serious health problems like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. To mitigate the negative health effects this can cause, employees should be sure to take occasional breaks where they get up and move around. Every little bit helps. Simply taking a quick walk around the office or standing and stretching has benefits.

Conclusion

Employees should take the time to stop and think before doing any unusual movements at work. They should also stop and take stock of their posture regularly, remembering and utilizing the principles of using proper body mechanics at work.

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