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Summary: 

This week, Heath Williams from Principle Four Osteo and Corporate Work Health Australia joins Michael to discuss ergonomics. 

With people spending the majority of their working week at a workstation, the ergonomics of that setup can play a large role in their overall health and wellbeing. The last few years have seen a seismic shift in how people work, with working from home on the rise – often in suboptimal setups. On top of this, many people simply aren’t getting enough movement in their lives to counteract the hours stuck at a workstation (or dining room table).

In this episode, Michael and Heath explore the problems experienced by people having issues with office or home workstation ergonomics, and what can be done to mitigate or eliminate these outcomes. 

Let’s get confident!

Heath is the director of Principle Four Osteopathy and Corporate Work Health Australia.  He has 20 years experience working in health and wellbeing and currently works in private clinical practice and occupational health. CLICK HERE to find out more about Heath and Principle Four Osteopathy.

CLICK HERE to read the full transcript from episode 20 of The Confident Body Show

 

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • The impact of changing work habits on people’s overall health, including reduced incidental steps when working from home
  • The role office and work setups play in health and wellbeing
  • What is an ergonomic workplace assessment, and when is it the right time to do one?
  • The most commonly misunderstood piece of equipment

Key takeaways:

  • With the change in working lifestyle in the last few years, more people are more sedentary and taking less steps than before (<3000). Muscle tone and strength is often lost. (4:00)
  • It is not just important to have the right office or workspace set-up, but adjusting the workspace to fit you is just as important. The best ergonomic chair is not great if it is not adjusted to your needs. (7:00)
  • It is important to work on your postural strength to be strong enough to work. This is especially true if you have moved from a former active job to more desk-based work. (19:30)
  • In general, with a new work set-up or job, it takes time to be “work-fit”. Realise that it takes time for your body to adapt to a new work situation and physical environment. (20:00)
  • If you do have an injury at work, there are two levels of responsibility. One, for the employer to provide a safe workplace. Two, for you to do your job in strengthening your body in the rehabilitation process and make your body strong enough for work once again. (25:00)

For practical articles to help you build a confident body, go to mdhealth.com.au/articles.

Do you have any questions?

  • Call us on (03) 9857 0644 or (07) 3505 1494 (Paddington)
  • Email us at admin@mdhealth.com.au
  • Check out our other blog posts here

Our clinical staff would be happy to have chat if you have any questions.

 

Click on the Dash icon below to see the entire show transcript

Episode 20: Full Transcript

Voiceover (00:02):

Welcome to The Confident Body, where experienced health professionals discuss how to get the most out of your body for the lifestyle you choose. We believe everyone can exercise and get the most out of life, regardless of your injuries or health issues. Now, here’s your host, senior physiotherapist, Michael Dermansky.

Michael Dermansky (00:23):

Hi everyone, and welcome to the show that helps you become more confident in your body so you can keep doing the things that you love. My name is Michael Dermansky, I’m the senior physiotherapist here at MD Health, and today I’ve got a special guest with me, Heath Williams, from Principle Four Osteo. Welcome to the show, Heath.

Heath Williams (00:39):

Thanks very much, Michael, for having me. I’m very excited to have a chat to you today around ergonomics and wellbeing.

Michael Dermansky (00:45):

Well, the topic today is the importance of office and work setup as part of your life. So tell the audience a little bit more about what you do and what you specialize in.

Heath Williams (00:55):

No worries at all. So my name’s Heath Williams, I am the current Director of Principle Four Osteo, which is a private clinical practice in the Melbourne CBD, but I’m also the Director of Corporate Work Health Australia, which is a occupational health business that services Australia-wide in the areas of office workstation ergonomics, vehicle ergonomics, and manual handling, risk assessments and training. So us, as practitioners, are very much focused around the preventatives and reactive interventions for people that are having issues in those areas of ergonomics.

Michael Dermansky (01:32):

Right, excellent. So I mean, I guess then going straight into the interview from there too, so how long are you doing this for, Heath? You’ve been doing it quite a while now.

Heath Williams (01:40):

Yeah, no worries. Yeah, so I graduated 2003, and have been practising as an osteopath since the end of then. I’ve worked here in Australia, also having worked abroad for a few years. And in the occupational health space, I think we started around 2006, working firstly in the UK and then we started our business here in Australia in 2011.

Michael Dermansky (02:01):

Great, excellent. Well, let’s get straight into it. So from your perspective, where does office and work setup play a role in people’s overall health?

Heath Williams (02:10):

Yeah, for sure. So obviously it’s going to really depend upon the person, and then how they interact with that office or work-from-home situation. So if we’ve got individuals that are spending the majority of their working week at the workstation, it definitely can play a large role in their overall health and wellbeing, especially if they’re probably working from a nonoptimal or suboptimal situation or environment or setup. It can often increase the risk factors for people experiencing musculoskeletal aches and pains. That’s your neck pain, your shoulder pain, your back pain, that sort of stuff.

Michael Dermansky (02:49):

Yeah.

Heath Williams (02:50):

Then, thinking more broadly too, if you’ve got individuals that are largely sedentary in their work and that sort of stuff throughout the week, what we often see with those individuals is that they’re not getting enough movement in their day and that sort of stuff. So unless they’re being proactive in their day outside of work, or if the work design doesn’t allow for that person to move regularly throughout the day, we’re often not seeing people moving enough. And we talk about that 10,000 steps as an arbitrary number that we want people to work towards. Lots of people are nowhere near getting that 10,000 steps, as a general rule anyway.

Michael Dermansky (03:25):

Right. And that’s more of that change as well. I mean, as a physio as well, when we see clients here, we can make a difference of how strong they are here and what their body’s like as well, but we have very little control of the environment when they’re not with us as well. And particularly in the last three years, where working for home’s become much more normal, sitting at the dining room table with the chair that you had versus a work setup, which may or may not be perfect, but it still was set up with an office setup. And now whatever you have, you use, or a laptop as well. It’s changed a lot in the last three years.

Heath Williams (04:05):

It definitely has. I think when obviously people went first to working from home, if they’ve never had that working from home arrangement prior, most people were just in a rush to get at home and just getting to work without that consideration around best practice ergonomics. And so lots of those individuals, there was a group of individuals that probably very quickly started to feel aches and pains and that sort of stuff because they were working from a suboptimal environment. And so therefore that prompted change for them. And then also, the nature of what tasks they did and how they work had to change.

And obviously, well, with this virtual Zoom-based meetings and this sort of stuff, it’s also changed the way people work in the sense that it’s forced them to become more sedentary also versus when they’re in the office prior, there was lots more interaction and engagement with colleagues, moving around, spending time in different work environments, rather than at the home environment, where you’re largely just stuck at that workstation doing all of your tasks.

(05:03):

So that’s probably had a big impact on health and wellbeing as a movement component, and then also in terms of say aches and pains that manifest from sitting for too long or sitting in awkward positions or doing repetitive tasks, et cetera. So there’s a few factors that feed into why I suppose the last couple of years have been challenging for some people.

We’ve also had to adapt to these meetings too, so now there’s a lot more cognitive demand and this talking to the screens a lot, which also then feeds into other factors like visual strain, lots more people are getting headaches and aches and pains and this sort of stuff, again, because we’re not changing the environment and that sort of stuff, and we’re not moving a lot.

Michael Dermansky (05:45):

I mean, as you said, although 10,000 steps is an arbitrary number, the amount of steps people are doing now because they don’t have to walk or go anywhere, it’s from one room to the other and stay there. It’s lower, it’s much lower than it was before. That incidental activity level is just so much lower.

Heath Williams (06:06):

Yeah, definitely. We track our different client steps and I think most people, previously, if they were in an office environment, they’re probably getting around 5,000 steps a day of which they’d have to be proactive to make up those extra steps. But the working from home situation, it’s not uncommon for people to be doing between 500 and 2,000 steps a day. So really, we need to be, I suppose, encouraging people to be more proactive when they’re not at work or looking at changing their work environment to perhaps facilitate more movement or more changes in posture throughout the day, for sure.

Michael Dermansky (06:39):

Yeah, that’s interesting because I mean, it’s about 7,000 steps where you’re starting to see the cardiovascular benefits of actually just doing the steps, where at that 3,000 mark that the effect on your heart and lung is pretty big.

Heath Williams (06:52):

Yeah, yep, definitely.

Michael Dermansky (06:54):

So when is it the right time to do an office or workplace assessment, and what are the important aspects that you tend to look for?

Heath Williams (07:01):

Yeah, definitely. So look, there’s probably no wrong time to do an ergonomic assessment. I suppose if I’m talking to a client that we’ve got in our practice, or I’m talking with a business and that sort of stuff, if no one’s ever had any education around this space in any preexisting work situations, or if they’ve got hobbies that involve gaming and this sort of stuff, I’m always encouraging people to maybe consider having an assessment. And that can be delivered in a variety of ways.

It could be obviously done face-to-face, it could be done virtually, having a look at some photos and providing advice around that stuff. However, if I think about when I might genuinely really encourage or prompt an assessment, that would be if someone’s developing any musculoskeletal aches and pain. So any neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, headaches, that’s stuff that might be either maintained, caused or aggravated by that environment and the work tasks, or the tasks that they interact with at that workstation there.

(07:55):

If there’s been a change in environment, we’ll want to often also look to undertake a risk assessment, but just because that might dictate in terms of how we set someone up in that particular work environment. If you’ve got a change in work hours, a change in job tasks or a change in equipment, so you get a new chair, you maybe get some new monitors, et cetera, going through a risk assessment then can be helpful because we might reinforce good behaviors in some senses if things are really perfect and optimal. However, what we experienced is perhaps an opportunity to improve a few things that might feed into obviously better worker or individual comfort, but also better productivity for that person.

So they’re probably the key times that I would be looking to prompt an assessment.

(08:41):

Now, in terms of what’s involved in that and what things we are looking at there, we want to understand the person, and then we want to get a sense of, well, how do they interact in that particular work environment at that particular workstation? So firstly, what’s their job? How many days or hours a week are they spending at that particular workstation or work area? What types of tasks are they doing? So are they largely doing inputting tasks? Are they doing lots of keyboard and mouse work, or are they largely needing to be staring at screens and cognitively thinking and then doing occasional typing, et cetera? Or are they largely in meetings, like we’re in right now, and you’re just sitting and staring at that screen?

So once we get an understanding around those things, then that will also better inform us as to what things we might want to optimize and change for that person.

(09:34):

Typically, the most commonly misunderstood pieces of equipment will be the chair and then how that person fits to the chair? Is that ideal for them? Then also then get an understanding around, well, what does that person understand about the chair and how to set themselves up? And we’ll look to obviously optimize them to that. And then that person in their chair to their workstation, and then secondary to that it’ll be, “Well, okay, let’s have a look at your keyboard mouse and monitors and this sort of stuff, or any other accessories you might have, and let’s look to optimize that stuff so that we’re obviously having maximum worker comfort,” but then too, also optimizing it to that best guidance around ergonomics for that worker or person if they’re interacting a social sense.

Michael Dermansky (10:16):

Okay, so it sounds like there’s three steps. Number one, the biggest one is the setup of the chair and the desk. And so even if you bought a wonderfully ergonomic chair, it may not be the right one for you, might not be set up properly for you. So just the chair itself doesn’t make it as the setup for it, that’s what I’m hearing. Is that right, Heath?

Heath Williams (10:33):

Yeah, definitely the chair would be number one. So obviously, all chairs are ergonomic, it’s just is that chair fit for purpose for what that person needs to use it for? So you can go out and buy a $400 chair or $100 dollar chair or $1,000 chair, I suppose we want to know does that person fit to that chair well because all chairs are not the same in terms of, say, dimensions, weight capacity and that sort of stuff. And then all chair features are quite different across each chair.

So if you’ve got a basic chair, one will go up and down and you can probably adjust the backrest through to your 3-lever chair where you’ve got all the whiz-bang capabilities of adjusting it. Most people, if they don’t understand what’s going on, one, they probably just leave it, or they’ll leave it in the default position, which may or may not be best for them. And then we want to educate them on how to utilise all those features to maximize that to them. So the chair’s always number one.

Michael Dermansky (11:26):

Great, excellent. And then the secondary is the accessories around, the monitor and the mouse, all those things as well. And then the third thing sounds like is then how does that then fit into your overall work life as well? Is that right?

Heath Williams (11:39):

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, that’ll be the key things there. So person to equipment and then how that all fits. And then obviously looking at that person’s behaviour when working in that environment, from a how do they to work, observing how that person likes to work, what are their movement breaks like, what tasks are they doing, and how do they perform those tasks throughout the day. So often, we fall into habits and patterns where we will have a routine, and that routine might not always be the best thing for us if we’re thinking about encouraging lots of breaks and lots of variety in work tasks.

So often, that’s probably the biggest challenge is trying to really review that, and then look at that person’s work practice and try and influence that work practice to encourage more movement and variety throughout the day, rather than perhaps those default patterns or working behaviours that they’ve always done.

Michael Dermansky (12:35):

Yeah, I mean, it’s a tough thing as well ’cause we talked about this in another podcast as well, it’s not just about making the recommendations but making it habit, taking what you’ve usually done and then making into a new way of doing it too. And that involves a break, that there’s degree of discomfort, “I haven’t done this before,” “I’m not used to it,” “That’s a hard task to do.”

Heath Williams (12:54):

Yeah, definitely. And I think that’s probably the biggest challenge. So if we just take sitting for example, lots of people like to sit in a certain way and then if we maybe show them a different way, that’s going to feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable for a little bit just because they’re not familiar to that. And then the same thing with, say, work tasks and how they operate and schedule their workday. If they have a bit of autonomy around how they organise their workday, then looking to change that stuff can be really helpful.

Where it gets tricky is, I suppose, if that person’s workday is pretty consistent with the tasks and that type of environment where there’s not a lot of flexibility around movement and that stuff, that’s where that stuff can get tricky for those individuals. Then we have to look at other strategies there to try and encourage more movement for that person or variety anyway.

Michael Dermansky (13:37):

All right. I guess go into the next question is, okay, you’ve done an assessment, you’ve made certain recommendations, what does that mean for either the workplace or the person after that too? ‘Cause then it has to be implemented to be effective.

Heath Williams (13:49):

Yeah, definitely. So let’s just take the person that we’re consulting with firstly. So number one will be we’ll assess that person, we’ll educate that person on best practice. So that will be showing them all the different things, giving them a variety of different ways to vary their chair, vary how they might work with their screens, keyboard, mouse and that sort of stuff. And we’ll obviously report on that, those key findings. We’ll also look at maybe their broader work strategies and tasks.

So that’s where having a bit of an understanding around their job tasks, analysis effectively, we can provide some advice and some tips around, “Well, okay, when and where possible, let’s try and change things up when you’re doing that particular task or that type of job role and that sort of stuff to create more variety.” And then obviously those movement breaks and behaviours, again, people get stuck into patterns.

(14:38):

And often, if we take the most simple one, people will just sit at a workstation for too long without having breaks and so we need to come up with some solutions there that are going to prompt them to have a bit of a behaviour change there and that sort of stuff. So we’ll give different simple tips on that sort of stuff so that that person can then obviously look to break that pattern and create a new pattern of behaviour and that. So we’ll do that. For the individuals, again, if they’re needing to source out additional equipment, we’ll provide resources around, “Well, okay, here’s a variety of options that’s probably worth trialling,” and that sort of stuff, so it fits them in particular rather than giving them a generic type of recommendation.

(15:16):

And then when it comes to the business, effectively, if it’s a business organizing it for one of their workers who’s working from home or in the office, we’ll report on all those key findings in terms of our assessment findings, any changes we’ve made, any particular recommendations which will cover off on the equipment, the working behaviours, and then also those movement behaviours and that sort of stuff.

Michael Dermansky (15:37):

Right. And what about for the workplace? I mean, that’s what the individual can change. What about in the workplace? How does that usually work towards the employer?

Heath Williams (15:43):

Yeah, so definitely, so obviously all employers generally have a duty of care when it comes to providing a safe workplace, providing training and the appropriate work equipment for that person to do their particular job. So if we’ve got largely an office-based worker, their duty of care lies around, one, does that person have a workstation? Do they have all the appropriate equipment there? Does that person know how to use that equipment and that sort of stuff? So from a legislative health and safety perspective, outside of benefiting the worker and educating on that, we’re also providing that business with obviously that certainty that we addressed all those key areas, they’ve got a record of that within their OH&S management system there.

(16:25):

So typically, businesses are not going into this just to tick the box from an OH&S perspective, really they’re very much a worker or individual health and wellbeing focused. So largely, most of the time, we’re doing this in a preventative manner, where we’re trying to get a good outcome for the person, which ultimately will have a benefit to the business. Now, there will be times where someone’s got a musculoskeletal complaint or maybe a complex work cover type related injury and that sort of stuff.

Where we come in in that process, again, is very much worker-focused, but we’re also covering off on all those other key areas there to better assist the business to support the worker whilst they’re managing or dealing with or returning to work from those particular injuries.

Michael Dermansky (17:09):

It sounds like there’s a bit of a responsibility on both sides, so from the employer about giving them the tools and equipment they need to work properly and some education doing so.

Heath Williams (17:20):

Yeah.

Michael Dermansky (17:20):

And for personal, to really to be part of the strategies and part of the solution too. So it’s not one or the other, it’s often, it sounds like, it’s a bit of both, is that right?

Heath Williams (17:29):

Very much so. The individual has to own what’s going on a little bit. They need to be committed to making change and obviously trying to implement best practice where possible. And again, that falls under that OH&S legislation around duty of care to oneself and looking after others within the workplace.

Michael Dermansky (17:47):

Yeah.

Heath Williams (17:48):

And the business also needs to tick that off. We’ll get good outcomes when both parties are working together and trying to work towards that same outcome there. Where it can be tricky is if you’ve got an individual who’s not wanting to obviously implement change but the business is trying to support that, obviously there’s a seesaw effect there. And then vice versa where you’ve got to worker or an individual trying to address their own health and wellbeing issues but the business is not supporting there.

So it’s a constant juggling act between those two. And those that do really well is where you have businesses that are very supportive and focused on worker health and wellbeing, but also the individual themselves very much is wanting to take charge and manage that stuff themselves.

Michael Dermansky (18:28):

Right. Well, I guess that leads me to the next question. What about the person? Where does strength training or getting your body ready for work come into it too?

Heath Williams (18:37):

Yeah, definitely. So it probably comes down to if we think about an individual and then you think about obviously work, for example, we’ll just focus largely on work there. If it’s an office-based job, that type of job has inherent physical requirements to be able to do that job. So those physical requirements might be person needs to be able to sit for eight hours a day, person needs to be able to interact with their workstation using upper limb and this sort of stuff. So one, if a person doesn’t have that capacity to do so, then obviously doing some general fitness and health and this sort of stuff might be helpful in terms of building that person’s capacity up so they can better endure the demands of that physical task that they’re doing. And then also, it’s about, well, how do we take that person who’s maybe never done that job role before and then they need to be able to do that? How do we graduate that person’s ability to acclimatize to that particular job role?

(19:31):

So typically, we often think about capacity from a manual handling perspective where there’s physical jobs and this sort of stuff. But obviously, for an office-based job, there’s a lot of other physical requirements that people need to be able to do, and we often forget about that in terms of conditioning for that person when it comes to getting them fit to be able to do that particular task. I think, if anything, what we often see with people is if they’ve gone from an active job to now a sedentary job, there’s quite a big need to adapt and evolve to going from being active to now being sedentary. And that can be quite a challenge for some. One, from a mental perspective, but two, there’s actually quite a physical need to adapt to that, and that sort of stuff.

(20:14):

So there’ll be byproducts of that person that presents itself with that person, and that might present with stiffness and tightness and restrictions and this sort of stuff that manifests, or it might be for that person who hasn’t done a computer-based job to now lots of inputting and using the mouse, keyboard and looking at screens and stuff. Then there is still a physical demand and need for these upper limb tissues, and that sort of stuff, to be quite durable.

So we need to obviously help that person from a general fitness capacity to work towards that. Ultimately though, that stuff can all be helpful as a broader health and wellbeing perspective, but often it’s about, I suppose, gradually having that person build their capacity whilst doing that job because that’s probably the most task-specific training that’s going to help that person adapt to that.

Michael Dermansky (21:06):

It’s interesting you say that, I know it’s not exactly the same, but analogy when people do play sport for the first time it’s they can practice and they can train, but for people actually physically play that sport, actually need to do some of it to be match-ready, and very similar to the workplace as well, until they’ve done that job, whatever it is, even if it’s more sedentary, it’s more fatiguing than they think it is because their body’s not used to it. And it takes time to adapt.

Heath Williams (21:32):

Yep. Yeah, definitely. And then often we forget about that cumulative effect over time too. So people might adapt well for a short period of time, but as that person has that cumulative exposure over time, things start to manifest then I think for certain workers and individuals. And then that ends up resulting in often, say, musculoskeletal complaints. So our goal really is to try and intervene in that process there so that person can obviously gradually expose them to those particular job tasks they’re doing, get used to it, but also be comfortable in that process and not develop any aches and pains or stiffness and that sort of stuff.

Michael Dermansky (22:11):

And I mean, interesting point you make before of someone who has had a physical job and now is potentially at the desk as well, is that conditioning and strength work, that would’ve happened just ’cause naturally they do that task, has changed when they go to a more sedentary lifestyle. And so that strength work that would’ve been part of the job is now something they have to do externally to keep, maintain that, and it’s very easy to miss that they’ve lost that over time ’cause you don’t notice what you lose until suddenly something goes wrong and then realize, “Well, hang on, I used to be able to do that but now I can’t.” But it’s just happened in the background. So it’s something that has to be a conscious thing people work on when they’re not doing it on an everyday basis.

Heath Williams (22:50):

Yeah, definitely. Lots of people will end up probably detraining or deconditioning if they’ve gone from active to inactive. And whilst they might start to get regional-specific, conditioning that broader conditioning through their body probably drops off. And if we think about it, you’ve got your aerobic capacity, you’ve got your general strength and endurance, your power and this sort of stuff, that’s where probably more general exercise and movement, and that sort of stuff, could probably help maintain those without loss as they start to do more of a sedentary type job.

And I think that’s probably something that we try and encourage all of our people that we work with to try and think more broadly around health and wellbeing. And what are they getting lots of naturally within their job, and then what are they missing out on because of that job, and what do they need to then focus on outside of that job to maintain a healthy full body, mind and body, as they progress through that working career but also their life and stuff.

Michael Dermansky (23:49):

Yeah, it’s interesting too. I mean, we talk about this, we talked about it in previous podcasts as well, where young mums are in the same boat, where they’ve gone from an active or a more social, interactive lifestyle to one that they’re at home as well. And we see so many young mums decondition just because their lifestyles change. And just they’ve lost it over time, and realize, oh, they used to do this and they used to do this, and they used to do all these exercises beforehand. And then because of a couple of years of just not being part of the routine, their life changes. And we see it again and again and again, and people who have been in a sedentary job for a while, particularly the last three years, a lot of people have deconditioned.

(24:25):

I mean, we see, “Oh, I used to be able to do this,” and we test them, they’re a lot weaker than they expected to be because they’ve been deconditioned and they’ve been in a reduced exercise, in a more sedentary job because they’re in front of a computer at home, and their body’s changed slowly over time. And until they work on it directly, it won’t be just the way it was, they needed to actually work on it.

Heath Williams (24:49):

Yeah, totally. Very much so. Definitely activity and exercise is a big key focus. I think other things that we need to think about more broadly is just sleep and nutrition and stress and all of that stuff. That’s going to have an effect on health and wellbeing. And obviously, over the last few years, lots of that stuff’s been impacted. And so, again, just giving people, I suppose, providing them with the education and resources around that stuff so they can better manage, that’s really important too from a health and wellbeing perspective.

Michael Dermansky (25:19):

Yeah. I guess the last couple of questions as well is that if you are injured at a workplace, well, what’s your responsibilities and what are your rights?

Heath Williams (25:30):

Yeah, definitely. So let’s just say you’re at work and you have an injury whilst undertaking your typical work duties. Firstly, number one thing is obviously seek out any medical care firstly, just to make sure that stuff’s all addressed appropriately. But from a workplace health and safety perspective, you will most likely need to lodge an incident report. And that might involve obviously notifying your line manager or someone within the organization that manages that stuff. It’s probably filling out some documentation there.

And then obviously the workplace then may well inform WorkSafe Victoria, or wherever that legislation is that covers that stuff, just to notify there has been an incident. But for the individual, if they’ve sought out medical care, if that injury is going to impact that person’s ability to go to work or perform their work tasks, so that seeing your GP for the first time is really key, because they’re going to be able to write out a certificate of capacity to outline obviously the best way to manage that complaint with regards to work.

(26:31):

And it might mean, in some circumstances, no work, but it might also mean doing some part-time work on modified work hours, work duties, et cetera. And then obviously, after that first certificate of capacity, if you’re seeking out care with a physio or an osteopath, an exercise physio also, so one of your APRA registered practitioners, be it an osteo or physio like yourself, can then obviously provide guidance and liaise directly with the workplace with regards to a return-to-work, plan so that we can get you from this injured state back to having that capacity and being comfortable doing your typical work tasks and that sort of stuff. So that’s probably the key stuff there.

The workplace has a duty of care to obviously support you in that process, and that will turn into an insurance claim for some individuals and that sort of stuff. And so that’s where a whole bunch of different stakeholders will then get involved in this process to, one, support you as a worker, but then also come up with a plan to get you back to work where reasonably possible.

Michael Dermansky (27:31):

And what’s the responsibility to the person as well? I mean, what do they have to do?

Heath Williams (27:36):

So I suppose when it comes to a work injury and that sort of stuff, obviously the person, like in any work situation, under any sorts of training and that sort of stuff, obviously if you’ve got certain policies and procedures and processes around how to do certain work tasks, and it’s our responsibility to try and follow that sort of stuff, but often most of these types of injuries that we might see in an office environment or a home office environment aren’t necessarily traumatic events.

You’re not falling down the stairs and hurting yourself, it’s often cumulative overuse type injuries and that sort of thing. So it’s probably the responsibility of the individual to, one, actually alert their line manager if they’re starting to get some symptoms and that sort of stuff. So don’t wait until you actually can’t go to work or you have to see the GP. If you’re starting to notice niggles and this sort of stuff, it’s best to try and obviously get in early and preempt that becoming a big problem.

(28:24):

And so from my perspective, it would be notifying those key stakeholders within your business so then we can so try an early intervention prevention approach. But then once you’ve got an injury, it’s obviously being proactive in how you manage that. So one, seeking out the appropriate care so you’ve got a diagnosis, and then we can get obviously a treatment and management plan to better help you in that process.

And then if you’re seeing a physio and osteopath or so, then hopefully you’re following their advice around management of that complaint so that you can obviously have a quicker resolution, rather than just putting up with your symptoms and hoping that things are going to get better and that sort of stuff. Or not actively intervening in an active way around your injury or complaint, and that sort of stuff.

Michael Dermansky (29:11):

And I mean, being part of the rehabilitation process is really, really important. When people are active about their recovery and doing something about it, we see good results because they’re part of the process, they’re not just waiting for stuff to be done to them. It’s really about them being part of the process too.

Heath Williams (29:27):

Yeah, definitely. I think our role is really to help facilitate that process, and then that facilitation can look like a bunch of different things depending on what that person needs. Really it needs that buy-in and that internal motivation from that person to really get that process moving along in the right direction.

Michael Dermansky (29:44):

And just as we wrap up, anything else you want to add that we haven’t talked about so far today?

Heath Williams (29:48):

No, not really. I think, if anything, so for those that are working from home or working in the office, and you’ve maybe never had an assessment or so, or you’ve just got a lack of understanding around stuff, we do have a range of free resources on our webpage, which I’ll provide you the link with, which are some posters and videos and this sort of stuff. That might be a helpful place to start where you might be able to self-evaluate.

Michael Dermansky (30:11):

Yep.

Heath Williams (30:11):

And then if you are obviously dealing with niggles, or you’ve got concerns and you can’t set yourself up well and that sort of thing, it’s probably then maybe speaking with the appropriate professional to maybe organize one of these types of assessments to ensure that you are set up well and you have a good understanding around what you need to do or what you need to maybe purchase to optimise that setup.

Michael Dermansky (30:34):

All right, that’s fantastic. Well, I’ll put a link on the notes for this show on our website as it goes live as well, so everyone should be able to access those resources as well. Thank you very much for being a guest on the podcast today, Heath. It’s been a wonderful amount of information for all the listeners about the work setup and what people can do about it too. So thanks very much for being a guest today.

Heath Williams (30:55):

Thanks very much for having me.

Michael Dermansky (30:56):

All right, great. Thanks a lot.

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