Are mobile devices causing back and neck problems?
Everywhere you turn people have a mobile phone or device in their hand. We check emails, view websites, do research, send messages; basically most of us would struggle to go a day without picking up our mobile phone or device. Our mobiles are an essential piece of our work and personal lives and for many they have replaced the desktop computer completely.
Indeed earlier this year we wrote an article ‘Calling Time on Email’ in response to the French government’s decision to instated a right for employees to disconnect from mobile devices to “ensure the respect of the rest periods and breaks, as well as the personal and domestic life”.
Is there a cost to our health from spending so much time using our mobile devices?
A research study published in 2016 shows that repetitive texting and use of mobile phones is causing neck and shoulder problems in young adults1. Prolonged time spent tilting our heads to look down at mobile devices is influencing our posture and body mechanics, and is contributing to neck, shoulder, upper back and arm pain.
The human head weights between 10 and 12 pounds, and titlting the head forward by even 15 degrees can equate to a head weighting 27 pounds. The greater the angle of the tilt the greater the strain on the neck; 60 degrees forwards would equal 60lbs of pressure. Add in the fact that as you tilt your head forward you tend to round your shoulders, all of this is creating extra wear and tear on the neck, upper spine, and even lower back.
In 2015/16, muscolosketal disorders accounted for 41% of all absences2 within the UK, with an average of 16 days being lost per employee. As the use of mobile devices increases so may the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders, the rise in absence, and the subsequent cost to your business.
What can you do to protect your health and your employees health?
- Use desktop computer for extended work
- Ensure laptop or tablets have an external keyboard, mouse and a stand for the device so that it can be arranged ergonomically
- Complete work station assessments
- Ensure employees working from home are setting up an ergonomic work station
- Provide DSE training for employees with specific emphasis on posture
- Use a Bluetooth headset so that phones don’t have to be held up to the ear
- Use voice recognition features on mobile devices as this reduces the need to touch the screen or to look down
- Move, stretch and drink water regularly throughout the day
- Taking care of your body with a smart nutrition and fitness plan
- Complete a health and musculoskeletal assessment.
Lincoln Occupational Health can provide tailored training programmes and absence management services that are appropriate to your business and your working environment. Why wait until someone goes absent, carry out training now so that you can prevent musculoskeletal absences from occuring at a future date and costing your business thousands.
For more information on how we can help you safeguard your employee and prevent the increase of musculoskeletal disorders, please do not hesitate to contact Katie Eastwell on firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
2 Labour Force Survey (2016)