Don’t Let Your Office Become a Pain – An Ergonomic Checklist for Computer Workstations

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics looks at what kind of work you do, what tools you use and your whole job environment. The aim is to find the best fit between you and your job conditions… No matter what the job is, the goal is to make sure that you are safe, comfortable, and less prone to work-related injuries. — Source: Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine

Results of Poor Ergonomics

Sitting at a desk for long hours can take a toll on your body. Bad posture and poor ergonomics in your workspace can lead to headaches, back, neck or joint pain, numbness in fingers and arms or eye strain. Of course, if you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your physician for proper diagnoses and treatment.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. Please read the references at the bottom of this article for more information or consult an ergonomics expert for advice.

If you haven’t given consideration to the comfort of your workspace, you may want to think about an ergonomic makeover. Good ergonomics will enhance your workspace so you are more comfortable, healthy and productive. Here is an illustration of the correct seating posture followed by an ergonomic checklist for your computer workstation.

Ergonomic Checklist:

Chair

  • Adjust height of chair so you can sit comfortably with your feet flat on floor or on a footrest.
  • Thighs should be parallel to the floor and knees at about the same level as the hips.
  • The backrest should support the natural curve of the lower back.
  • The best seated posture is slightly reclined back at about a 110-degree angle with shoulders relaxed.

Desk

  • Make sure there is clearance under your desk for your legs and feet.
  • Don’t store items under your desk.

Monitor

  • To avoid straining your neck and eyes, center your computer monitor in front of you, about an arm’s length away.
  • The top of the viewing screen should be at eye level. If you wear bifocals, it may be more comfortable to lower your monitor slightly.
  • Position monitor to avoid excessive glare from direct lighting or windows. Use a glare filter over the monitor if necessary.

Keyboard and Mouse

  • Adjust keyboard height so shoulders can relax and allow arms to rest at sides.
  • Your keyboard should be slightly below your elbows. If necessary, use a keyboard tray that’s placed beneath your desktop.
  • The mouse should be placed adjacent to keyboard and at the same height as the keyboard.
  • Wrists should be in neutral position (not excessively flexed or extended).

Phone

  • If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset rather than cradling the phone between your head and neck.

Keep What You Need Close

  • Keep the items you use most frequently – pens, papers, phones, etc. – close so you can reach them comfortably without excessive extending or twisting.
  • Make sure that any paper documents that you are reading are placed as close to the computer monitor as possible. Use a document holder if possible.

Take a Break and Move

  • Give your eyes a break using the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, find an object about 20 feet away, and stare at it for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid strain from repetitive motions (or stationary positions) for long periods by taking short breaks every 30 to 60 minutes. You can briefly stretch, stand up, walk around, or do a different work task.
  • Schedule your day to include standing, walking, bending and lifting, and other purposeful exercise.



References

  1. Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine – Ergonomics – https://medlineplus.gov/ergonomics.html
  2. Cornell University Ergonomics Web – Ergonomic Guidelines for arranging a Computer Workstation – 10 steps for users – http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/ergoguide.html
  3. National Institutes of Health – Division of Occupational Health and Safety – https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/sr/dohs/HealthAndWellness/Ergonomics/Pages/prevention.aspx
  4. WebMD – Typing? Check Your Sitting Posture – https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/typing-posture-pain-prevention