Ergonomics in the Office

March 13th, 2012

Ergonomics in the OfficeWhether your employee spends the day counting cash or typing reports, implementing good ergonomics benefits both your employees and your bottom line.

By creating a workstation with the ability to be ergonomically adjusted for each worker, you are in effect decreasing the likelihood of office related repetitive stress injuries and musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. Properly adjusted workstations also reduce fatigue and increase worker efficiency—avoiding workers’ compensation claims in the process.

A mantra of many ergonomic specialists is “fit the job to the person.” Creating an ergonomically efficient workstation involves adjusting chairs, keyboards, mice, computer monitors, phones and other office equipment to the specific needs of each person.

Office Ergonomic Basics

Chair
• Easily Adjustable
• Feet can sit comfortably on the floor
• Lumbar support of chair fits the curve of the back
• Armrests adjusted so elbows are at 90 degrees and don’t interfere with typing, mousing or writing surfaces

Keyboard
• Slightly below elbows
• Front slightly higher than the back (at a negative incline)
• Shoulders relaxed
• Wrists straight while typing

Mouse
• Near to and same level as keyboard
• Avoid overreaching
• Keep shoulders relaxed

Monitor
• Keep at height equal or just slightly lower than eye height when sitting in properly adjusted chair
• Keep free of glare with glare screen or by keeping at 90 degree angle to light sources

Phones
• Keep within reach to avoid overreaching
• Use a hands-free headset if possible

Tips for Work Improvement from the Calif. Department of Industrial Relations

• Take micro-breaks from repetitious activities or static postures every 30 minutes for one or two minutes before resuming that activity or posture. Find opportunities to get out of your chair and move around.

• Place the telephone on your non-dominant hand side. Your dominant hand will be free for writing, and cradling the telephone between your ear and shoulder while writing will not be necessary.

• Use a telephone headset or the speaker when performing tasks simultaneously with the telephone. This practice will prevent awkward neck and shoulder postures associated with cradling the telephone between your ear and shoulder.

• Type with the tips of the fingers. Less force is needed to depress the keys with the tips of the fingers. Use a light touch when keying.

• Change postures frequently throughout the day. Alternate working from a sitting to a standing position whenever possible. Change the tilt of the back of the chair frequently.

• Use shortcut keys whenever possible, instead of a pointing device (mouse, trackball, etc.).

• Alternate hands when using the pointing device, OR alternate between pointing devices (e.g. alternate between mouse and trackball). Use larger muscles by moving from the elbow and shoulder, rather than from the wrist, when operating the pointing device.

• Stand up to reach into overhead bins rather than reaching up from a sitting position, OR lower the overhead storage bins if possible.

From Easy Ergonomics For Desktop Computer Users, California DIR

For more information on improving your offices’ ergonomics, check out the EIA Loss Prevention Office Ergonomics information sheet, or sign-up for the Office Ergonomics: Loss Prevention Training Seminar in April.

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