Machine operators in the Northern Territory are being warned to get off their seats and take a break from using heavy machinery for long periods, or risk long-term spinal damage.
Operators commonly present to Chiropractors with a variety of spinal complaints including low back pain. In my May column last year I discussed the “Sit Right Campaign”, which is a national initiative released by the CAA to educate Australians about the adverse health consequences of prolonged sitting, and to pay more attention to their postures in the workplace.
This campaign was particularly directed towards sedentary office workers, however this advice is equally, if not more important for people who operate machinery. Constant sitting is common in the building, farming and mining industries where an operator is not just sedentary but whose body is submitted to frequent vibration, heavy lifting, repetitive and forceful exertions and vibration.
For machinery operators it is not uncommon to spend up to eight or more hours a day sitting in their truck or tractor. To make matters worse, occasionally some machines have poorly designed or worn-out seating, which contributes to further problems like muscle stiffness, poor balance and mobility, as well as pain in the lower back, neck and hip.
Have a look at the checklist below.
- Position your seat to ensure that your hands and feet are comfortably placed on the controls and the low back is well supported. If you have a bad seat buy a low back support and attach it to backrest.
- Occasionally get out of the seat and move about, even if it’s only 5 minutes every hour, it will help to prevent fatigue. (I know this is hard if you are busy but do your best).
- If you think your posture is affecting your ability to work tell your boss.
For more advice on how to Sit Right or to download the free widget, visit www.sitright.com.au and for a posture assessment, your local CAA chiropractor.