5 Fundamentals Of Proper Body Mechanics At Work

  • Lift With The Knees
  • Maintain Good Posture While Sitting
  • Stand With Feet Apart
  • Align The Body When Moving Or Turning
  • Avoid Sitting For Hours On End

The principles of using proper body mechanics at work are important to understand for all employees. Adhering to them can help prevent serious injury and help employees experience a much better quality of life. 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

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 knees helps mitigate this risk. Employees should also bend at the knees 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. This can result in serious injury, particularly if the heavy object that was being lifted falls on the person.

2. Maintain Good Posture While Sitting

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 when paying attention to what they are typing on a keyboard. Feet should be planted flat on the floor, with the person sitting as far back on the seat as possible. Employees 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

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

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, pinched nerves and herniated discs. It is important not to twist at the waist, especially when lifting or carrying a heavy object.

5. Avoid Sitting For Hours On End

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.

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.