The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently unveiled proposed new workplace safety rules. The pending measure would require numerous employers to adopt programs that address ergonomics (work activities that cause musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, such as back injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome). More than 325,000 MSDs occur in small firms each year, resulting in lost wages and production. As a solo entrepreneur or small-office employer, you can begin protecting yourself and others today with some preventive measures.

Simple solutions often work best. Eliminate pain from your daily tasks. Properly use the adjustments already provided in your chairs, computer monitors, and furniture; refer to the user's manual. Adjust the height of working surfaces and change the placement of telephones, printers, and in-boxes to reduce long reaches and awkward postures.

Changes in your workplace need not cost a fortune.Invest in telephone headsets, ergonomic chairs or stools, gel-filled wrist rests, polarizing lighting products, air cleaners, and antifatigue floor mats. Check out the 3M Office Ergonomic product line at; many of these items have rebate discounts. For more ideas, download "Real Solutions for under $100" at

Get FREE help from the experts. OSHA offers a free safety consultation. You'll find details about the program online under "Outreach" at

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