Why Develop 7 Commandments of Ergonomics©?

I believe everyone wants to work. When I was newly graduated, I didn’t believe this. I thought that if you won the lottery, the first thing you would do is quit work. After 28 years of working, I believe “to work” is the most important thing in your life, even if it is not paid work.

I thought my understanding of ergonomics was common knowledge until some years ago when I sat with a 56-year -old travel agent who was medically forbidden to return to her work due to her computer related injuries. Her self-esteem was shattered. She described that the joy and passion had been taken out of her life. The way she perceived herself had totally changed; she did not want to be “disabled”; it was too “harsh” a word. Sure, she still had her family and her friends who meant well when they said “take early retirement”, “look after your health”, but their advice made her feel inadequate. She was in too much pain to enjoy retirement; she couldn’t read, run, garden or ski. She wanted to be “productive”, she was sick of the pain and hated taking medication daily. She wanted to return to work, she wanted to be a travel agent. The 7 Commandments of Ergonomics helped her to work. That’s when I decided to share my “common knowledge”.

What are my qualifications to develop the 7 Commandments of Ergonomics?

When I graduated as an Occupational Therapist, I worked in a number of different hospitals. After the initial shock of injury and the initial recovery period, people wanted to get back to work. They may never be able to use their legs or their hands but they wanted to work. I learned that it is one thing to choose not to work, but after a tragedy, after the healing, a common goal was to restore a sense of purpose – to return to work.

What if your ability to work was taken away by use of your computer? 

In the 1990s, I began to work with office workers who were not involved in a sudden, tragic and painful event, such as a motor vehicle accident but were still losing their ability to work. I worked with one insurance claims manager who had worked in the same job for 10 years and was used to working 10 hour days with no breaks. She started with left shoulder and elbow pain. She initially ignored the pain in her left arm. Two weeks later she also developed right wrist symptoms.  She couldn’t ignore the pain when both arms were unusable. She was off work for 6 months in excruciating pain unable to use either hand. She was unable to type, she couldn’t use either hand for dressing, cooking, eating; she couldn’t hold a cup of coffee. Her husband dressed her, she couldn’t style her hair, she couldn’t drive. She was so scared she would never get better.

What is my experience with computer related injuries?

Computer users are not given directions for ergonomics!

I got directions to use my washer machine yet I have interviewed hundreds of people who when starting a new job involving using a computer for hours, were never shown how to adjust their office chair or where to put the keyboard or mouse. Yet, the injuries you can get by using the computer improperly are much harder to live with than they are to prevent. Computer related injuries are the most common, most expensive and most preventable workplace injuries in the country.

I’ve seen hundreds of people who have computer related injury and are either working with pain or trying to get back to work after a computer-related injury.  In every case, I find that the same seven things need to be adjusted so that the computer station fits the worker.

These injuries have to stop!! I believe people want to work. I don’t want one more person unable to work because of a computer related injury. I believe I can help prevent computer related injuries with the use of 7 ergonomic rules so you can continue to work. I want to share the 7 Commandments of Ergonomics with you.