Since starting Blue Water Ergonomics in 2005, my focus has been on providing individualized and cost-effective ergonomic solutions for clients in a variety of work settings. I work with individuals, employers, and workers compensation insurance companies.
I take a very practical approach to ergonomics. As an occupational therapist, I base my recommendations on sound ergonomic principles related to anatomy and physiology, not the latest trends or marketing from ergonomic equipment companies. I observe clients in their work environments, ask questions, and determine what factors are causing their current discomfort or what existing hazards are putting them at risk for future injury.
Due to injury and illness history, aging, and lifestyle habits, our bodies are all slightly different. Because of this, there isn’t one ergonomic solution that works for everyone. This is where my experience in ergonomics and background in anatomy, physiology, and injury rehabilitation is especially valuable.
I take an individualized approach, balancing the client’s unique needs, the possibilities and limitations of the work environment, and the employer’s ability to provide reasonable accommodations.
My clients tell me they appreciate that I don’t automatically jump to new equipment as my first recommended solution. And because I don’t sell ergonomic products, they can trust that my recommendations are objective and unbiased. Sometimes, new equipment is needed. Other times, adjustment to the existing design is all that is needed to create the right fit.
When working with a client (whether in an office or in their home environment) and making recommendations, I focus on the following principles:
Posture and Alignment
The human body works most efficiently, and with the least discomfort, when correct alignment is maintained. Proper work station design allows for and supports correct alignment. The right equipment can encourage correct posture, but it cannot create it. Sitting with poor posture in any chair hurts!
How someone uses their environment and how they work greatly influences their comfort. For example, many clients hope that a different chair at work will improve their sitting posture, but if they do not develop/maintain the core stability to sit upright without difficulty or do not take occasional standing and walking breaks throughout the work day, even the ideal chair will not alleviate their symptoms.
Teaching a client how to correctly use an existing piece of equipment can often prevent the need for new equipment. I find that many of my clients have not been properly educated on the adjustments available on their chair or the correct placement of their keyboard, mouse, or monitor. The same is true for their home environment, whether in their kitchen or in their home office.
Spending the time to educate a client about how their posture and work habits impact their injury or symptoms encourages them to take responsibility for improving their comfort. And identifying potential hazards helps to prevent future issues.
Adjustability and Cost-Effectiveness
When new equipment is needed, I focus on cost-effective solutions and quality, adjustable products. Sometimes, specialty items are needed, but generally, the more adjustable an item is, the more useful it will be to the most users.