"If you make someone comfortable at work, that doesn't mean they will be lazy," Jeff Swartz, a physical therapist, said. "They will be more productive."
Mr. Swartz, with Therapy Works Ltd. in Oregon, told participants at a safety and health conference yesterday sponsored by the Safety Council of Northwest Ohio that more employers should get office equipment that's "ergonomically" friendly - desks, chairs, headsets, and lighting that reduce the stress and strain of office work.
And employers should teach workers adjustment of equipment to their own physical needs, correct posture for working at a computer, and simple stretching exercises that help muscles relax, he said.
Mr. Swartz was among more than 25 speakers at the daylong event at Owens Community College. About 575 people attended.
"Teach employees how to use the [ergonomic] devices you give them," advised Mr. Swartz. "How you make chairs go up and down, how you raise and lower lumbar support.
"Very few people know about the adjustments. If they're not going to use it, you won't get the benefit you're looking for."
Health and safety organizations and equipment manufacturers offer charts listing such measurements as optimum distances from eyes to computer, knees to floor, and height of computer screens. Also, several simple stretching exercises, including nodding yes and no, can relieve muscle pain, he added.
One important suggestion for employees, he said, is to get up and move around every 30 minutes or so.
Employees should wear appropriate shoes, particularly if they are on their feet all day, he said.
"Running shoes are not designed for factory use."