With increasing incidence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders among office workers, one preventive strategy is to set up well-designed ergonomics at your workstation.
The goal of workplace ergonomics is to fit the job to the person, as opposed to forcing the person to fit the job. The preferred method for accomplishing this goal is to use engineering controls (physical modification or installation of new equipment) to adjust the job or workstation to reduce or eliminate risk factors.
In general, the following should be considered when fitting the workstation to the employee:
1. Is your chair height right?
• Adjust your chair so that your feet are on the floor and your knees are at or slightly below your hip joint level.
• Double check this chair height with the other portions of your desk to make sure you are not too low to work at them. If this chair height is OK, move to item 2.
• If the chair height is not Ok, raise your chair so you can work at the set height of your desk. However, you will need some foot support—refer to item 3 below for more help.
2. Are your hands at the right height for the keyboard?
• Begin by checking to see if your elbows (when held at the sides of your body) are at the same height as the keyboard.
• If not, you’ll need to raise or lower the chair height so that your elbows and hands are at about the same height. This will place your forearms at a near-horizontal level, which helps to keep your hands and wrists in a neutral position.
3. Are your feet located/positioned correctly?
• After you’ve corrected the chair height for your keyboard use, your feet should be on the floor with your knees equal to or slightly lower than your hip joint.
• If not, you will need to get some kind of foot support. Commercially available footrests are height and angle-adjustable.
• If a footrest is not immediately available, use something that is the correct height for the amount of support that you need. However, be sure to request a foot support as soon as possible.
4. Do you have adequate back support?
• Sitting is physically demanding on the back. A chair with little or poorly designed back support creates discomfort or pain. Most office chairs have an up-down adjustment for the back (lumbar) rest. The forward protruding backrest support is anatomically designed to fit into the lumbar area or your lower back. Adjusting the height of the backrest to match your lumbar area will help you to maintain good posture while sitting, improve comfort, and reduce aggravation to the spine.
• When you sit down, position yourself back onto the entire seat and sit tall so that the backrest supports your low back.
5. Should you use a wrist wrest?
• The purpose of a wrist wrest is to prevent your wrists from drooping down during keying. Some people can hold their posture without support, but if you find that you rest your hands on the front of the keyboard or on the desk surface, then you should get some sort of support.
• Obtain a rest with some “give” to it (not hard plastic or rubber). Try separating the wrist rest form the keyboard 1-2 inches to allow support for your arms without concentrating pressure on your wrists.
6. Are you using the computer mouse properly?
• In order to reduce the risk of injury or discomfort, the proper way to move the mouse is with whole arm movements that originate from the shoulder.
• Use a mouse that is designed to keep your wrist off the desk, preventing impression.
7. Is your monitor located correctly?
• Position the monitor screen so that it’s vertical or at a slight tilt to prevent glare and yet give you a clear view of the screen.
• The top of the monitor should be set at eye level or slightly lower, and should be positioned for viewing with your head comfortably erect and balanced. This eliminates stress on your neck and shoulders.
• Check your monitor screen often for brightness and contrast. If necessary use an anti-glare filter, and keep the screen surface free of dust.
Robertson, M. M., & Maynard, W. S. (2005). Office ergonomics training. Professional Safety, 50(7), 22-30. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/200372868?accountid=14656.
Worksafebc (2016). Safety at work. Retrieved from http://www2.worksafebc.com/Safety/Home.asp?_ga=1.161959096.560669692.1325095253.Healthy Office Ergonomics - South Okanagan Physiotherapy & Active Wellness Centre