Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | August 1, 2016

Shades of Summer: Tips for Visual Ergonomics

chic sunglassesAugust is Eye Health month! Prevent cataract and other eye ailments by remembering to protect your eyes indoors and outdoors! With the heat and glaring sun of August, people are showing off their summer shades.  More than just trendy accessories, sunglasses are essential for keeping your eyes safe and healthy.

In fact, less than 50% of Americans recognize the true benefits of wearing sunglasses on a daily basis. Although sunglasses are fashionable, their most important function is to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun. In addition to cataract disease, exposure to UV rays may cause serious ailments such as skin cancers and glaucoma. Sunglasses prevent development of diseases while reducing glare from the sun.

Whether you are driving or sitting outside, sunglasses protect your eyes from sunlight’s glare off of surrounding objects.  Window shades are vital to minimizing the glare from outside, bouncing off of concrete or outdoor objects.

According to Visual Ergonomics by Jeffrey Anshel, the eyes are sensitive to light exposure anti reflectiveand working in places with uneven distribution of luminance can result in negative consequences. Glare can be extremely irritating when staring at a computer monitor and may lead to complications such as Computer Vision Syndrome or glare-related headaches.  Special computer vision glasses will help minimize computer glare and prevent computer vision syndrome.

Before you pick out a pair of chic shades, follow these tips to ensure your sunglasses will be effective:

  1. UVA/UVB Coverage: Pick a pair of sunglasses clearly labeled with 99-100% protection from UVA and UVB radiation. Without this coverage, UV rays may penetrate through the sunglass lens and cause damage to structures in your eyes.
  2. Distorted Vision: Wearing sunglasses that are prescription are the best for your eyes unless you have 20/20 vision. Avoid sunglasses that distort your vision, as this can be another safety hazard.
  3. Polycarbonate Lens: This is the most durable material for a sunglass lens. It is especially preferable for individuals with active lifestyles and is at lower risk of breaking.
  4. Block Visible Lights: The darker the shades, the better for blocking out visible light that can damage vision.

Wear your shades and keep your eyes fresh well into the future!

~ Pam

Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | July 1, 2016

Exercises to get you to “Posture Perfection”

As an ergonomic assessment specialist, when I go out to different companies, one of the first things I notice about employees with back pain is their not-so-pretty posture.  Staying seated for long periods of time or working with improper body mechanics only exacerbates the problem.   Poor posture can also negatively affect your breathing and digestion.

Whether you are looking to eliminate back pain or sharpen your image, there are many benefits to focusing on posture daily.  Eliminating slouching from your daily routine can bring results within a week. Since sitting pretty doesn’t come naturally, here are a few different posture exercises that will help you or your employees stand taller so you can give a proud “Salute” this Fourth of July.

Practice these 20 minutes per day:

1. Downward Dog: Warms up abdominals and shoulder muscles. Also stretches calves, lower back muscles and hamstrings.Down dog

  • Hands are placed on the floor.
  • Attempt to get your feet as flat as you can.
  • Stay in this position for 1 minute.

 

2. Hip Lift: Warms up the ham strings and pelvis to provide support for natural curvature of the spine.

  • Lie on your back near a wall.Wall Hip Exercise
  • Place your feet on the wall with knees and hips at a 90 degree angle.
  • Place a small towel or roll between your knees for back support.
  • Engage abdominal muscles and push heels into the wall.
  • Lift your hips 1-2 inches from the floor pressing your feet into the wall.
  • 10-15 repetitions.

 

3. Reach Through: Stretches and relaxes shoulders, lateral abdominal muscles, and lower back.Reach through

 

  • Assume table top position.
  • Rest on your elbows.
  • Point one arm toward ceiling, then reach it through the opening of your other arm and torso.

 

 

4. March and Reach: Loosens long back muscles, improves balance, and strengthens gluteal muscles.

  • Stand with feet hip width distance apart.Sprint in Place
  • Raise your right or left arm.
  • Shift your weight onto one foot and bring the opposite knee up to hip level, bringing down the arm that was raised to connect the elbow with the lifted knee.
  • Do 5-10 repetitions, alternating sides every other time.

 

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!!!

Fireworks

~Pam

 

Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | May 24, 2016

Go Toe to Toe with Back Pain

Can you touch your toes? Well, maybe you shouldn’t!

Getting a deep stretch in those hamstrings is something we all learn to accomplish in grade-school or sports practice after “warming” up. As it turns out, touching your toes will actually exacerbate lower back pain, especially if done with “cold” muscles.  Tight hamstrings lead to overstretched back muscles if you bend to touch your toes.

According to the Wallstreet journal, nearly 80% of people have back pain, with most cases unrelated to injury.  Sedentary jobs and lifestyles are leading to ever increasing rates of back pain.  As opposed to standing, sitting prevents the curvature of your spine from taking its natural shape.  Although using lumbar support and adjusting your workstation ergonomically may reduce back pain, standing and properly stretching are the best methods for preventing low back pain.

These exercises and techniques reduce back pain and make sitting more comfortable:Back Bend

Back Bend: Every hour or two, stand and put your hands on your hips, bend backward slightly until you feel a stretch in your lower back and pectoral muscles. Hold for three seconds and repeat five times.

  • Note: If you have spinal stenosis this stretch is not recommended. If this feels painful at any time, discontinue the stretch.

 

Cat Reaches to Sky

 

 

Stretch to the Sky: Raise your hands to the sky and stretch upwards, clasping your hands together for 10 seconds. Perform this stretch every one to two hours.

 

 

Child's Pose

Good morning sunrise: In bed or on a yoga mat in the morning, perform child’s pose 4 or
5 times. This involves the knees tucked on the sides of the chest while the shins rest on the surface. Your hands and arms will be stretched out in front of you. After you stretch your arms forward you may rest them at your sides.

 

Beat back pain and remain productive! These simple stretching techniques, when practiced daily, can make a world of difference.

~Pam

Have a Healthy Heart

According to new research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the average 45 year old man has a heart age six years older than he is.  Check your heart age right now by using the HeartAge.me calculator.

Heart healthy foods can do wonders to increase the health of your heart:


Almonds
Lowers LDL cholesterol so they are very good for your heart, reducing the risk of heart disease. Extra phosphorous in almonds also helps bone strength, and important risk reducer for fractures after a fall.

Berries

Salmon– Stocked with Omega-3 fatty acids, these lipids also reduce risk of heart disease.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)– Great on salad tossed with a little lemon, salt, and pepper.  Rich in LDL-lowering mono-saturated fats, EVOO reduces your risk for heart disease.

Berries– Berries are full of antioxidant and polyphenols that aid in fighting cancer and heart disease.  Sprinkle a few over yogurt or morning cereals.

Like Clockwork

        Another bonus of a healthy heart is a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.  The brain requires 20% of the oxygen supplied to the body from the heart (Columbia-Neurosymposium).  High levels of cholesterol lead to poor heart ejection fractions.

       Ejection fraction is the amount of blood that leaves the heart after each contraction.  High levels of cholesterol lead to heart artery blockages which can significantly decrease the amount of blood pumping through the heart for every heart-beat.  Decreased amounts of blood flowing to the brain means decreased levels of oxygen and this can deteriorate brain function.

      According to The Franklin Institute, micronutrients specifically found in fruits and vegetables are used by the brain to safeguard its cells from damage and dysfunction.  Low intake of fruits and vegetables is not only unhealthy for the heart, but increases damages within the brain that result from cellular metabolic activity.  Fruits and vegetables play a dynamic role in reducing your risk to developing Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

Catch two birds with one scone- make sure its berry filled!  Take care of your heart and your brain will reap the benefits.

~Pam

Columbia Neuro Symposium: http://nyneurosymposium.columbia.edu/symposium/2010/060410/825AM-MaryKayBader.pdf

Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | October 2, 2015

Slips & Falls: Don’t Let Halloween Goblins Spook You!

Running Through The ForestKeep the monsters at bay, don’t let Slips, Trips and Falls get in your way!

As Halloween approaches, our senses heighten as the haunted air makes our hair stand on end!  This time of year reminds us of ghouls and goblins; monsters we’d run from as our imaginations were carried away.  Faux slips, trips, and falls during these pensive escapes filled our hearts with dread for the undead.  Well, slips and falls aren’t only a figment of our imaginations!

Slips, trips, and falls account for 30% of workplace related injuries and over 65% occur on same-level walking surfaces.  The problem is especially troublesome in specified industries. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, service, wholesale, and retail trade industries together accounted for the greatest proportion of injuries resulting from same level falls (over 60 %).

The National Safety Council reports slips and falls are the leading cause of death in the workplace, on average about 15 %, second to motor vehicle accidents.   These hazards are everywhere and you can find them on the job or even out while trick or treating!

Fog and BridgeThe causes of slip and fall incidents are varied:

  • Messy, cluttered work area with tools, material, or  cords lying on the floor in places where people walk
  • Poor visibility caused by inadequate lighting, burned-out bulbs, or thick fog
  • Walking or running while texting
  • Carrying something you can’t see over
  • Wet, oily, icy or damaged walkways
  • Failure to use handrails when going up or down stairs wearing inappropriate footwear

 

Want to avoid slip, trips, and falls during Halloween fun and on the job? Here are a few do’s:

Do:

  • Keep work areas neat and tidy, putting tools, materials and other items away after use
  • When carrying a load, walk and  change directions slowly
  • Pay attention to changes in floor level such a steps or ramps
  • Report lighting problems right away
  • Close drawers after use and keep items off stairs.
  • Ensure walkways clear of equipment or material and are in good repair
  • Keep floor surface clean and dryMeryl Streep - Witch

The most frequent complaints related to slips and falls are shoulder, back, elbow, wrist and knee injuries.  Take an active part in preventing injury or harm to yourself and others.  Avoid the jinx of a brooding witch and “beware” of your environment.

~Pam

Please Note: The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only.  This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the cited regulation.

Sources:

  1. Slips, Trips and Falls: Prevention and Regulations.  www.grainger.com
  2. Regulatory standards: OSHA 29CFR1910.22, Walking-Working Services, ANSIA1264.2-2006, Provision for Slip Resistant for Walking/Working Surfaces.

3.  NIOSH: Fall Injuries Prevention in the Workplace

 

Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | September 2, 2015

Gadgets To Get You Giddy!

Fall into spirit of the upcoming holidays by making your life just a little easier.  Ergonomic gadgets improve our productivity and health, while saving us both time and money.

Leg up

Get a “LEG UP” on the competition this season with the KENU Portable iPhone and Android stand.  This nifty stand provides protection for you neck, wrist and forearms.  Whether you are reading Reddit No Sleep in preparation for Halloween, or watching puppies get their first bath, holding your phone for long periods of time can cause muscle strain and pain.

Keyboard Cover Rainbow

A colorful keyboard can lighten the mood and protect your laptop from unwanted spills, debris, and crumbs. Kuzyproducts.com keyboard cover is flexible and washable.  After all, every rainbow needs a little rain!

Zuta

Forget to print out an important document for your meeting or class?  No problem with Zuta’s Pocket Printer. The portable printer works with any device including android, iphone, windows phone, tablet, or laptop.  It can print on any size of paper and weighs less than one pound.  Any business guru on the road would find this stylish pocket printer convenient.

After work, it is important to find some time to relax.  With MUSE, a brain sensing headband, it is now possible to monitor brain wave activity to monitor the progress of meditation or anxiety reduction.Muse Handband

Anxiety, stress, and tension play a tremendous role in neck and shoulder pain.  Harmful effects of stress extend to other body systems, increasing the risk for increased weight and cardiovascular disease. The MUSE headband assists you in discovering your inner Zen with precision.

Take time before the holidays begin, and gather your gadgets now.

~Pam

Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | August 4, 2015

Get the Edge in Class: Ergonomic Tips for Back to School

BACK-TO-SCHOOL-SHOPPING-large570

Preparing for the back to school season can be a stressful time. Homework has to get done, new schedules have to be made, and school supplies have to be bought. To meet students’ essential needs, ergonomic principles should be taken into account.

According to Chris Adams from About.com, ergonomics strives to improve comfort as well as efficiency. Incorporating ergonomic friendly school supplies and ergonomic guidelines into any student’s life will help make educational tasks that much easier. So, here are 5 beneficial ergonomic tools for any student going back to school:

Key to Success: In this day and age, computers and keyboards are a staple in most schools. However, the risks associated with keyboarding may not be as well known. Poor typing posture can cause hand and wrist problems, especially for children because of their smaller hands. In order to help combat this issue, keys should be pressed on lightly, hands and wrists should hover over the keys, and wrists should be kept at a neutral position. The keyboard should sit on a flat surface and properly positioned (not tilted or propped).

Keyboard Correct

Mouse Correct

Cat Student and Mouse: When using a computer mouse, it can be easy for your hand and wrist to become aggravated. In order to avoid a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury, hold the mouse with a gentler grip and move the mouse with your forearm rather than your wrist. Position the mouse so that your wrist is in a neutral position. Additionally, it is important to choose a mouse shape and design that is comfortable for you, the student. For example, if you have smaller hands, a standard mouse may be too big and a smaller mouse may be more beneficial for your clicking needs.

How heavey is too heavyHow Heavy is Too Heavy: A backpack is a quintessential school item. Unfortunately, with textbooks getting bigger and lockers disappearing, students are carrying more than they can handle. To help aid with this problem, experts advise that students carry no more than 15-20% of their body weight on their backs.  Backpacks with wide padded straps, are better at distributing weight.  The backpack should be positioned so that it hangs just below the shoulders and rests on the hips/pelvis area.

 Y Grip

Cramping Your Style:  Writing tools can be tricky to handle because of different weights and shapes that accompany them. In order to help make the writing process easier and more comfortable, try Pen Again and EZ grip. The Pen Again is a revolutionary “Y” shaped pen/pencil that eliminates writer’s cramp. The EZ grip is a rubber grip that can be placed onto most pens/pencils and reduces hand pain due to the softness and ease of comfort.  The wider the barrel of your writing utensil, the less grip strength and pressure needed to write.

Less Paper Work: Students spend most of their time staring at white sheets of paper while in school. Unfortunately, the high contrast can lead to eye strain. If possible, it is better to use different colored paper such as yellow to reduce contrast as well as brightness.

Tablet 3More students are required to use tablets throughout the school day. As a result, visual fatigue occurs which causes eye discomfort, headaches, and blurred vision. The key to eliminating this problem is to minimize the brightness on the screen and take a break every 20 minutes. To find out more information regarding vision fatigue, check out our previous blog titled “Insider Secrets for Kicking Out Computer Fatigue.”

So don’t stress and remember an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

~ Pam

Sources:

https://www.ergonomicsmadeeasy.com/blog/10-tips-for-better-keyboarding/
http://www.ergo.human.cornell.edu/cumousetips.html
http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/mbergo/schoolguide.html
http://ergonomics.about.com/od/ergonomicsforchildren/tp/essential-back-to-school-gear.htm
http://www.brighthubeducation.com/special-ed-physical-disabilities/3775-ergonic-pens-and-pencils-for-students/

Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | July 14, 2015

Vacation Safety: Daydreaming About Your Summer Getaway?

Roller-CoasterJuly is an exciting month full of patriotic pride!  Preparing for a summer of amusement park visits requires safety planning.

Amusement parks are especially popular since kids on vacation simply want to relax and enjoy thrilling days out in the sun. According to the Amusement Park and Attractions Industry Statistics, “approximately 290 million people visited U.S. amusement parks” in 2010.  Although amusement park injuries that are ride related are quite rare, heat stroke and sunburns are important health issues that should be avoided.

When we practice good ergonomics skills, we keep ourselves, and our families, out of harm’s way.  Below are some helpful hints to enhance your visit to an amusement park for you and your children:

1. Have Fun in the Sun: SunMost amusement parks are outdoors so make sure that sunscreen is one of the items on your checklist for things you MUST take! Be sure to get a sunscreen with enough coverage against both UVA and UVB rays (at least SPF 30). Remember to keep reapplying throughout the day especially following water-splash rides.

2. Stay Hydrated: With a long day ahead of you, heat exposure and physical activity lead to dehydration. Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day with water or perhaps a sports drink that contains electrolytes. Even better yet, why not hydrate yourself BEFORE the day of your trip to make sure your body is fully fueled and ready to go! Drink at least 67% of your body weight in ounces (135 lb person drinks 91 oz of water per day).

Roller coaster sign3. Obey the Limits: You will inevitably come across various “Restricted Area” or “Do Not Enter” signs and it is EXTREMELY important to obey those limits. Pay attention to the “Caution” signs posted by each ride. These requirements are established by state guidelines and are there for your benefit. Parks make it easy for you to determine whether your child meets the limits. Some parks even provide a “test seat” to determine appropriateness for your child.

4. Be Aware of Your Health: It is important to be awHealthyare of your health. If you have any health concerns such as chronic back pain, heart issues, or hypertension, be sure to read the “Caution” signs to verify you are cleared to go on the ride.

5. Have a Buddy: When traveling with children or a large group, it is helpful to assign buddies. Have an adult be in charge of one or two children to ensure they will be supervised constantly. The adults might want to buddy up too, so they can keep each other company and perform double checks.

As you are getting ready to plan your next trip to an amusement park, remember to use these helpful hints for a safe and rewarding trip.

~ Pam

Sources:

http://www.safewise.com/blog/10-tips-for-amusement-park-safety/

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201501/4359/

http://www.iaapa.org/resources/by-park-type/amusement-parks-and-attractions/industry-statistics

Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | June 19, 2015

What Part of the Team Are You in the Office?

Go with the flow     How do you impact your office environment? Different personalities and work styles mesh and flow to create a diverse work setting.  Everyone has heard of the famous “Type A” and “Type B” personalities.  Both of these   personality styles work in different fashions that create a dynamic, creative, and efficient work environment.

By the book      According to Sue Shellenbarger, from the Wall Street Journal, there are employees and managers that, “make the trains run on time,” but can also be, “controlling and inflexible.”  How do we create an environment that has “ergonomic chi” to budge the rigid personality of the, “by the book type” aka, “Type A” personality!  It starts with intermingling the creative “go with the flow” employee, who embraces flexibility with our “by the booker.”

Symbiosis

____These individuals offer flexibility where needed, including an ability to avoid, “butting heads” with our more “by the book” employee.  A symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit exists among these two types of professionals.  While offering outside ideas and bending to meet the needs of a situation, “go with the flow” types bring innovation and “by the bookers” bring that extra push needed to meet deadlines.  Of  course, each kind of employee can certainly exhibit attributes of the other from time to time.

Want to know which worker type you lean towards? Take our Personality Quiz and find out.

~Pam

Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | May 6, 2015

“Gadgets”: Powerful Tools or Tiny Distractions?

It’s Monday morning, you just got to work, and yet all you can think of is how much you can’t wait for the day to already be over. It is easy to feel restless and confined to your work space especially when a deadline is approaching and your stress levels begin to rise.

Luckily, researchers at New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering have found that playing with different desk gadgets could help combat stress and induce physical stimulation. According to the Wall Street Journal, certain kind of hand movements help with cognitive functioning. This field of research is known as “embodied cognition” and although it is still new, it may be the very thing you need to boost your brain power in what otherwise would be a dull workday. Here is a list of 5 easy to find objects that can help you think more creatively, improve focus, and alleviate stress.

1. Smooth is Soothing: Running your hand over a smooth surface, such as stones, can help hit specific pressure points on the palms of your hands and send signals through your nervous system that it’s time to relax and let go.

2. When it All Clicks Together: Repeatedly clicking a retractable ball point pen stimulates your mind and can aid in sustaining your attention especially when the task at hand is tedious and mundane.

3. Help! I’m Stuck: Sticky tack (adhesive putty) is easy to roll and can create different shapes. Fiddling with this can ironically help many get “unstuck” and promote brain stimulation.

4. Tighten and Fasten Your Seat Belt …Coat Toggle?: Playing with a toggle on your coat by tightening and fastening it provides a satisfying tactile experience that can aid with creative problem solving.

5. Blast From the Past: Believe it or not, certain toys and gadgets that you once played with can help alleviate a tense situation and spark conversation in your workplace. For example, by squeezing a rubber duck, you can vent out pent up frustration and help lighten the mood. Also, Brookstone’s ‘Executive Sandbox’ is the perfect way to stash sand on your desk at work for a little fun and relaxation between mind-numbing tasks and important meetings.

So help yourself beat the Monday morning blues by incorporating these handy dandy gadgets into your office space!

~Pam

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