Every Ergonomist knows (or should know) that a primary cause of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (UEMSDs) is extreme posture. Neutral posture is best. So, that means non-neutral posture is a risk factor for UEMSDs. But does it mean that ergonomics programs should include a component for searching for and correcting non-neutral postures? NO! While posture issues can be risk factors, sitting in poor posture does not necessarily cause an UEMSD. In other words, there are plenty of people who sit in poor postures that will never develop any type of problem. Posture while an indicator of POTENTIAL problems is not a perfect indicator that there will be a problem. The minute you begin to try and “force” a posture change on someone who has been sitting in all the “wrong” ways for years and has never had a problem, you will likely have:
- Totally alienated that employee to your program,
- Built someone who will potentially bad mouth and tell anyone who will listen,
- Created a lot of ergonomics problems that you will need to deal with.
Like it or not, politics are an integral part of corporate life today. No program can survive much less thrive if the people do not like it. Discomfort is a much more reliable indicator for you to act upon. Anyone who is uncomfortable will welcome efforts to alleviate that discomfort. The goal of a good program should be to teach all of your “customers” should they be internal or external customers, the proper ways to improve and fix their situation and where to go for additional help if they have issues and/or concerns. Discomfort and injuries are powerful motivation to make changes and typically make people much more receptive to your assistance. Just make sure they know how to contact you.