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December 2017

January 2018

Mousing with Non-Dominant Hand: Anti-Aging at Your Fingertips

Willard WebbPosted by Debra Willard Webb, MS, RN, COHN-S, WCP®

Doing the same things, the same way, every day can be harmful to our mental and physical health.  Being comfortable as creatures of habit doesn’t do much to keep our brains healthy.  Memory recall, problem solving, and even motor-memory skills can dwindle by abiding in our comfort zone.  Here’s a computer ergonomic tip that has the added benefit of challenging brain drain: Learn to use a computer mouse with your non-dominant hand.

Whether you work or play on a computer, use your non-dominant hand for mousing for a few minutes daily.  Ergonomically, the benefits include:

  • Rest for your dominant hand, this can lower strain risk
  • Slight posture changes stimulate nourishing circulation
  • Slight improvement in the workload balance between hands
  • Lastly, this provides a ‘Plan B’ should your dominant hand suddenly be unable to tolerate fulltime mousing, perhaps from an accidental sprain or other injury

Then there are the brain benefits of changing hands.  The simple exercise of learning the motor coordination for your opposite hand is brain work.  In this Wall Street Journal article, a neurobiologist explains that mental exercise can even stimulate the development of new neurons and brain pathways right on into our senior years.  This builds resilience for us as we age and improves our mental fitness. According to this Harvard Medical School article, the more challenging the brain exercise, the better for mental fitness.

The muscles, of course, know how to follow brain commands.  But your brain needs to coordinate those commands without requiring your full attention.  That is the exercise part.  This learning can be done in very small doses, so let the process be a fun one, not a frustrating one.

Trying is Believing:

Leave your mouse on the opposite side of the keyboard at the end of your workday today.

Open your computer systems with your non-dominant hand at the start of your work day tomorrow when your brain is fresh and alert.  Then stop with your non-dominant hand.  Return your mouse to your dominant hand before you get frustrated or discouraged.  (You should WANT to get back to the exercise tomorrow.)

Make a cue that helps you remember to leave your mouse on the opposite side at the end of day, so that it is already in position as a reminder to ‘exercise’ tomorrow.

After 10 days, most participants realize they are gaining coordination.  By the end of week two or three they can recognize accomplishment.  Not speed, not efficiency, but certainly progress.  Occasionally, someone moves more quickly through the steps above and becomes a 50-50 user.  But that is not required to see real benefits.  Fifteen minutes in the morning and the afternoon is 30 minutes daily that your dominant hand has a rest and your brain has a boost!

Additional reading:

Health and Safety Executive, Ergonomics of using a mouse or other non-keyboard input device

Association for Psychological Science, Learning New Skills Keeps an Aging Mind Sharp

 


Looking in the Rearview Mirror at Driver Safety

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, MS, WCP®

This year marks MEMIC’s 25th anniversary of opening its doors in 1993.  While driving down the highway in MEMIC’s inaugural year, the radio airwaves were filled with the music of Boyz II Men, Kris Kross, Michael Jackson, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Vanessa L. Williams, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Reba McEntire.  The 20th Annual American Music Awards, held on January 25, 1993, honored many of these music artists and groups for their albums and singles with titles having relevance today with regard to an increasing concern for over-the-road risk exposure.  The importance of this concern is underscored by OSHA’s recent trade release statement that “more workers lost their lives in transportation incidents than any other event in 2016, accounting for about two out of every five fatal injuries.”  Going forward in this new year, we can all learn to be a safer driver from the information and resources following these titles garnering a ’93 music award or nomination.

Favorite Pop/Rock Album: Dangerous by Michael Jackson

Driving is inherently dangerous; that’s why a license is required through education, practice, and competency demonstration.  The King of Pop’s eighth studio album contains a song titled “Gone Too Soon” which especially relates to teen driving with the CDC indicating that the leading cause of death for U.S. teens is motor vehicle crashes.  On any given day, the prevalence of motorists young and old observed with a cell phone in hand while driving is astounding and disturbing.  Texting and driving don’t mix!  MEMIC’s blog Distracted Driving Messages Abound offers tips for employers on how to protect workers operating fleet vehicles or personal vehicles for business from the dangers on the road.  

Favorite Pop/Rock Single: “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men

“End of the Road” edged out “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers which call to mind road construction/work zone safety and travel conditions during winter months.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were an estimated 96,626 crashes in work zones in 2015, an increase of 7.8% over 2014.  When driving through a work zone, stay alert, minimize distractions, heed directions on work zone warning signs, and watch out for construction workers and their equipment.  MEMIC’s blogs Distracted Driving & Work Zone Awareness, Roadway Construction Etiquette, and Traffic Work Zone Safety provide greater detail.  Be alert for signs reading “Bridge Freezes Before Road” as cold air streaming across bridges and overpasses reduces their temperature significantly faster and lower than roadways.  For safe winter driving tips, check out MEMIC’s blog Still Plenty of Winter Driving to Go!        

Favorite Adult Contemporary Album (nominee): The Comfort Zone by Vanessa L. Williams

Driving without distraction and staying within a safe comfort zone from other vehicles will help you “arrive alive”.  Maintaining a safe following distance using the “three second rule” affords the driver both time and distance to respond to problems on the road ahead.  Locate a fixed roadside object and count three seconds when the vehicle ahead passes the object.  If you reach the object before ending the count, you’re following too close.  In inclement weather, heavy traffic, or night-time driving, double your following distance to six seconds.  When driving behind a tractor trailer or snow plow, be aware of the blind spots behind and to the sides of the truck or plow and Know about the “No Zone” for safe following distance.

Favorite Country Album: For My Broken Heart by Reba McEntire

Also nominated for the award was “The Chase” by Garth Brooks with the titles raising the concern of speeding (as in a chase) along with the tragic consequences of a fatal crash impacting family and friends.  With the kinetic energy formula (Ek = ½ mv2) showing velocity (v) to be the exponential variable as compared to the mass (m), it becomes more obvious that speed (velocity) is the critical factor for an object’s energy in motion.  Interestingly, driving faster for whatever reason doesn’t save much time at all so keep it under the speed limit.  For a blog that “brakes” it down further, click on “I Feel the Need for Speed” and remember “speed kills.”

Looking in the rearview mirror as well as both side mirrors with a quick glance every 5 seconds helps you to be continually aware of your surroundings as a defensive driver.  Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel so no one is left with an “Achy Breaky Heart” which incidentally was the AMA’s favorite country single award given to Billy Ray Cyrus in 1993.

For more blog articles on driver safety, click on MEMIC’s Safety Net and use the key words transportation and travel in the search field.        

 


Top Safety Posts of 2017

This year MEMIC is celebrating 25 years of our mission to provide the best workers’ comp insurance by focusing on workplace safety and the compassionate treatment of all workers. Every week we try to provide the most valuable workplace safety tips to our readers, here are some of our most popular posts of 2017:

Last January Dave Darnley offered winter slip, trip and fall safety tips, definitely worth taking a second look at this winter.

In February, Randy Morehouse said when it comes to personal safety - listen to your inner voice and Rob Sylvester asked do back belts prevent back injuries.

Also in February, Adam Levesque covered OSHA’s updated electronic recordkeeping rule and in March advised on selecting the right shoes for your workplace.

Also in March, Greg LaRochelle explained load limits for structurally supported surfaces and Tony Jones talked about when it might be effective to pour another cup of coffee to stay alert when driving.

In April, Tonya Hawker explained what is a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) and why is it important.

In May, Allan Brown described the safe lift zone and how to keep lifts between the knees and shoulders to prevent injuries.

Let us know what posts you found most helpful so we can continue to offer the most valuable information possible. Thank you for your readership and here’s to 25 more years of safer workplaces!