Fitting a job to person, otherwise known as ergonomics, can decrease musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries and low back injuries1. In honor of National Safety Month link opens in a new window, Supplementally Speaking is sharing tips for keeping your work area body-friendly so you can end your workday feeling as good as you did when it began. Check out our ergonomically-minded office makeover plan:
A safe work environment begins with a good desk or table with enough space on top for the items you need and ample room below for your legs and feet to fit comfortably. If the desk seems too close to the top of your legs, adjust it or raise it up with risers or books to create the space you need. Never store boxes or other items under your desk as they can impede your comfort or cause you to move in an unnatural way.2
Your monitor should be about an arm’s length away with the top of the screen at eye level. Make sure you’re not turning to one side or the other to see it unless you only use it occasionally. Ideally, it should be directly in front of you, tilted slightly upward, right behind your keyboard. If you’re able, keep the brightest lighting in the room next to the monitor, instead of overhead.3
Simply put, your office seating should feel comfortable and supportive of your spine. Armrests should support your arms gently while working and the seat should be kept at a height that allows feet to be flat on the floor. If you can’t adjust your chair to allow for flat feet, invest in a footrest to elevate your feet to a flat position. In a pinch, stay comfortably aligned by using a stack of books until a footrest is available.4
Keep all objects you use regularly on the same surface within reach from a seated position. This includes supplies like pens, tape and staplers, but also your keyboard and mouse.5 Limit awkward reaching to keep injury risk low.
How you use your keyboard and mouse is just important as where they’re positioned. Straight wrists, keeping your arms close to your body and only slightly bending arms with hands and elbows parallel reduces strain. If you’re reaching your arms out to your keyboard, it’s too far away.7 And lastly, did you know keyboard shortcuts are more than just convenient? They reduce extra mouse usage, so learn some and start using them today.8
Be sure to ask your doctor before implementing changes in your work environment. Your physician knows your specific challenges and physique and can make individualized recommendations to keep you comfortable and safe at work.
1 "Ergonomics." Occupational Safety and Health Administration. United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 11 June 2017.
2, 4, 5, 7, 8 "Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 Apr. 2016. Web. 11 June 2017.
3 "Monitor Setup and Usage." Healthy Computing. Healthy Computing, n.d. Web. 11 June 2017.
6, 7 "Ergonomics: Keyboard and Mouse Setup (Computer)." OnHealth. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2017.