Following our last article, it seems logical to investigate how we can best look after our backs.
Most of our days are spent either standing at a worktable, or sitting at a machine. While standing can be better for you than sitting all day, there are various steps you can take to ensure you do not suffer from aching legs, sore shoulders and back ache.
Be aware that symptoms usually start gradually, but if you ignore them they can get harder to treat. As well as an aching back and legs, you might find you feel tingling or numbness in your shoulders, arms or hands.
Working at a machine means you may be holding one position for a long time, making repetitive arm movements, or finding part of the table or chair presses into your body or legs.
There are various things you can do to help:-
- When standing at the work table either make sure your weight is evenly spread on both feet, or try and remember to lift one foot and rest it on a low shelf or small box.
- Wear comfortable but supportive footwear — investigate trainers or shoes designed for people like nurses who are on their feet for long periods.
- Make sure your worktable and machine table are the right height for you.
- Use an adjustable, padded chair and check it is the correct height and can swivel. Make sure the seat is level or tipped slightly forwards (higher at the back), and the overall height allows you to relax your shoulders and sit upright to work. Sit with your hips at the back of the chair. For extra safety there should be five ‘legs’ not four.
- Consider having a foot support for both feet when sitting at the machine or worktable. This ensures you sit with good posture.
- Make sure the whole work area has good lighting so that you do not lean towards better light, or to get away from shadow.
- Make reaching easier — ensure what you need is near to hand without leaning or twisting.
- Take short breaks to stretch and move around if you need to do one task for a long time.
For specific advice on work seating and back problems visit The Health and Safety Executive website. They also have information for employers to ensure their workplace is set up correctly.
You can also find some great advice at the Sewing and Craft Alliance.