RSI and Posture

At the TUC Congress House, London BAC (Body Action Campaign) is launching a workshop that can visit schools to educate 12-13 year olds on the importance of posture and avoiding RSI. At the launch there will be a demonstration of the workshop. This campaign is backed by the RSIA and the National Back Pain Association and several eminent doctors including Richard Pearson. You can contact Bunny Martin on 0181 682 2154 for an invitation to the launch or for information on the workshop. If you have children at school (or not) persuade the head or the governors to make use of the workshop. They will have to pay for the workshop as it is being run on a shoestring.

Comment 1: May I say from the heart that it is not intelligence the average body lacks – it is common sense. Actually we’re all incredibly slaves to our habits and our peers. Many years ago a particular style of behaviour developed in mechanical workshops in this country. Safety Officers spend endless hours and days trying to make people in these workshops behave in a sensible (and safe) way. If the head of the W/S is committed and strong this works – otherwise back we fall to the same disaster area (and frequently the same accidents for the same reasons) very quickly.

Comment 2: I recall a Scandinavian program which attempted to teach children good
posture. They found that a slanted work desk produced good posture automatically, that a flat school desk produced poor posture automatically, and that even years of “posture training” had little impact on that poor posture. The conclusion? We adapt our posture spontaneously to the task. If you want to go against the spontaneous, it is a long hard slog, suitable for artists and musicians (for whom posture has other meanings in relation to performance, so they are not averse to considering it) but not for the general population. The better approach is to redesign the task so it suits the person, rather than to train the person to fit an inhuman task. Perhaps even take the view that the body is already intelligent? 

Comment 3: In principle, the ergonomist says that whether the issue is “I’ve told you and told you not to bang the keys” or whether it is about the safe use of a machine, if you don’t find the reason for the behaviour, training will only work while the trainer is present (or if we are trying to retrain ourselves, we’ll find the old habit always creeping back). In schools, the reason for poor posture is mainly that the task demands it (I mean that the flat desk encourages it). In factories, people work unsafely because it is faster or easier or requires less skill. If the worker keeps disabling the guard on a machine, that tells you something about the perceived pressure to perform, or about the machine jamming too often. It is not simply that “the worker is not using common sense” – that is a valid judgment from one point of view, but does not advance the cause! I am pro-training, as long as the behaviours you want to instill are truly practical ways of performing the task.


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