Opioid abuse is a hot topic in Washington because of its prevalence. U.S. doctors issue about 200 million prescriptions for opioids (i.e. oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.) every year, according to data compiled by the Addiction Center. These drugs are highly addictive because they block the brain from perceiving pain sensation, and create a sense of euphoria. Misuse of the drugs is the result for many. Upwards of 30% of patients abuse their prescription opioids.
The Bay Area is not considered a hotspot for prescription opioid abuse. San Francisco, Marin and the other seven counties that comprise the area have consistently ranked lower in prescription drug overdoses than the rest of the state. Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, is perhaps the most concerning drug in the Bay Area. The cocktail of fentanyl and methamphetamine, known as "goofball" on the streets, is fast becoming a public health crisis, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are one of the top contributors to the opioid crisis in the Bay Area and beyond. People working in construction, health care and other physically-demanding occupations are the most likely to be prescribed opioids to manage these soft-tissue injuries. But office jobs are also a major culprit. Human beings were never meant to sit for eight hours per day. A 2018 study by researchers at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, found that long-term sitting causes musculoskeletal discomfort that ultimately leads to opioid prescriptions.
Bay Area companies have adapted their office furniture choices as a result. Standing desks are becoming more ubiquitous by the year in Silicon Valley tech firms. But companies are making a conscious effort at adopting longer-term strategies to lower healthcare costs and reduce the prevalence of opioid prescriptions.
When ergonomic furniture is discussed, chairs are typically the focus - as they should be. Ergonomic chairs are height-adjustable and have back rests to support the lumbar curve. Arm rests are optional with ergonomic chairs. But if they do have armrests, adjustability is key. There is no one-size-fits-all setup when it comes to armrests.
Ergonomics in the office are more than just chairs. Computer monitors must be at or below eye-level. That way you can sit straight up at a 90-degree angle. Some simply stack a few books underneath monitors and laptops for height-adjustability. Other use height-adjustable monitors. Knees must be at a 90-degree angle as well. Foot rests are sometimes necessary to achieve this.
Keyboards and mousepads are also important for office ergonomics. Wrist supports help prevent arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Human Resources personnel and supervisors cannot diagnose opioid issues with workers. What they can do is keep an open line of communication communicate and let workers know that help is available.
Encourage workers to call the number on their insurance cards to inquire about available benefits. Reduce the stigma surrounding drug addiction by sending periodic emails and/or bulletins on messaging platforms about self-help and long-term recovery. Encourage the use of sick days to address potential addiction issues without repercussions.
Eco Office has solutions for both small and large-scale implementation of office ergonomics. Give us a call today at 408-437-1700 to discuss options.