Ergonomics is a process where the safety and performance of an individual is enhanced by studying and improving safety, comfort, productivity and the easy usability of equipment. In a work environment, ergonomics refer to the working area of the employees, which commonly includes a desk and computer. The job of the ergonomists is analyzing the work place for compatibility with the employee and the job. After analyzing, they make changes (if required) to the position of desk, chair, computer and other equipments present in the work place, so that they are more user-friendly. Other equipments, such as wrist supports and foot rests can also be given to the employees for their comfort.
Workplace or Office Ergonomics: Positioning of the Equipment
These points should be followed when setting up the desk, chair and computer to avoid problems such as poor posture and other injuries.
- The chair should be of good quality and with good back support, head and arm rests.
- The height of the chair should be adjusted so that when sitting at the desk, the following should occur:
- The thighs should be supported by the chair and the feet should be flat on the floor. The knees should be positioned at a right angle.
- The forearms should rest on the desk when accessing the middle row of keys on the keyboard.
- The wrist should not be flexed at any point, but there should be a straight line from the wrist, to the hands and fingers.
- The elbows should be supported by the arm rests when the forearms are placed on the table. If the arm rests are adjustable, then they can be moved to an appropriate height for you. If the arm rests are not adjustable, then they can be raised by wrapping foam and taping it in place when it has reached the right height.
- A foot rest is required for the feet if the desk is too high in order to keep the forearms supported on the desk and feet flat on the floor.
- The back support should be adjusted such that when sitting up straight, the lower back should be supported completely. If the curvature of the chair is not compatible with your back, then additional lumbar support is required.
- There is should be at least a 2" (5cm) space between the back of the knee and the end of the chair seat.
- After the position of the chair is adjusted appropriately, the height of the computer monitor should be adjusted such that the top of the monitor is at the eye level. The head should be kept straight and you should be able to look down slightly with your eyes.
- The monitor should be placed directly in front of you.
- The chair should be placed close to the desk so that the forearms are resting on the desk and are positioned directly under the shoulders.
- The screen should be at least 22-26" (55-65cm) away from you to avoid any eye troubles in the future.
- Make sure that the desk is clutter-free. Avoid keeping unnecessary items on your desk. The required equipment should be positioned neatly and correctly.
- If after the correct positioning of the chair, the desk remains either too low or high, then some thought should be given for purchasing a new desk. This may seem costly, but it will save lot of trouble and medical problems in the future. So, investment should be made in a new desk if the current desk is not appropriate for you.
Mouse and Other Equipment
The other pieces of equipment on the desk should also be placed correctly in order to give maximum comfort and easy usability :
- The mouse should be placed close to you while keeping the elbows beneath the shoulders. The elbows should be supported on the arm rests and the wrists on the desk.
- When moving the mouse, only arm movements should be there and the forearms should be rested on the desk. Never use the wrist while moving the mouse as this can cause RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury).
- Other equipments which are not used continuously or on a permanent basis such as phone, writing pad, pens etc. should be kept on the left hand side and within easy reach.