Does ergonomics matter to the home user?

There are often poor ergonomic choices for the computer user at home, despite the increasing number of hours per day spent at a home computer. Although ergonomic design may be used in the workplace, it receives minimal consideration in the home environment. Yet, the consequences of fatigue and repetitive stress are no less than in the office environment. Home computers are often used by a number of people in the family, from children to grandparents. A height adjustable monitor arm, laptop stand or sit-stand workstation allows for flexibility/adjustability for the users, providing ergonomic comfort and safety. The proliferation of wireless networking in the home also allows the use of laptops in interesting locations such as on the couch or in the bed. The first beautiful day of summer also encourages the laptop user to move to a lawn chair outdoors or even the poolside. An adjustable platform (such as the WorkEz Executive laptop stand or Lapdesk) caters for this unique ergonomic challenge at home.

Is there an optimum height for my monitor and mouse?

Yes. The top of the monitor should be at eye level because the eyes are at their most comfortable position straight ahead but slightly downward. This posture also makes it easiest to balance your head above your shoulders with the least muscular effort.

Be sure to look away from your screen at least every 30 minutes and focus on something more than 6 meter away.

Poor mouse operations can create RSI. Mouse position should be on the same level as the keyboard so that mouse use does not create a twisted or reaching posture. A keyboard tray with a mouse shelf extension is an easy and relatively inexpensive solution to this problem.

If you find that your mouse is often “drifting” (sliding to far away on the table while you are using it), the use of a mouse pad can assist as a gentle reminder to keep you mouse in the correct position.

If I work at a computer, how often should I have my eyes checked?

The recommendation is a minimum of once every two years. When you make an appointment with your eye care professional, you should mention that you work at a computer. They may want to know how much time you spend at the computer and how far your monitor is from your eyes. If you are a heavy computer user, they may offer you glasses that are optimized for computer work.

What is the best room lighting to help reduce eye strain?

A mixture of fluorescent and incandescent light is usually most pleasing. The most important aspect of lighting is to reduce glare and bright reflections from your screen, nearby glass, or shiny surfaces. Since light conditions change during the day this may require several adjustments while working.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a specific, severe, and debilitating form of RSI which describes a squeezing of the median nerve as it runs into the hand. The nerve is squeezed by swollen tendons surrounding it as they cross through a bony passage (The Carpal Tunnel) at the inside of the wrist.

What is RSI?

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a description of a manual injury associated with any repetitive activity such as hammering, piano playing, truck driving, computer use, or even shaking hands. Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS), Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD), and Work-Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULD), are all equivalent expressions to RSI.

Why should I use a wrist rest?

When positioned correctly, a wrist rest helps encourage a neutral wrist position where the forearms, wrists, and hands are in a straight line.

Without wrist rests, people often rest their wrists on a sharp desk edge or on the hard edge of a keyboard tray. This can create pressure points that aggravate hand and wrist problems.

Is movement or staying static at your workstation better?

Movement improves circulation. Rocking footrests promote movement, which can help to reduce circulation problems (such as blood clots) that result from long periods of inactivity. You should change your position as frequently as possible by adjusting your hips, moving your feet, lifting your arms and just slightly altering your posture continuously during your work day. You should also take frequent breaks and have a good stretch or walk around the office.

What are the benefits of using a footrest?

A footrest may not seem like a primary ergonomic accessory, but it does provide significant ergonomic benefit. An ergonomic footrest can ease leg problems and lessen lower back issues.

How do I know if I need a footrest?

If your chair is adjusted to the proper height and your feet aren’t flat on the floor, you should consider using a footrest. Footrests can also help individuals who has experienced issues with their positioning or who’s suffering from lower back pain, with keeping their lower backs positioned against the backrest of their chair. By doing this, the chair’s backrest, instead of their lower back muscles, is providing the support needed.

Do I need lumbar support?

Everyone should have lumbar support. The lumbar region of your back is the area just above your waistline where your spine gently curves inward. If the backrest of your chair doesn’t support this area, you should consider adding a secondary lumbar support.

When your chair is not providing you with sufficient lumbar support it can also be due to the positioning of your feet. When your chair is at the correct height in correlation to the desk, this can result in your feet not firmly supported on the floor. Unsupported feet create a forward pelvic tilt, which in return reduces the efficiency of the chair’s back support as well as increasing the pressure on the back of your thighs. The use of the correct footrest can achieve wonders and can solve this issue.

Do I need to sit in the same perfect posture all day?

No. You should try to vary your activities and position during the day to stimulate circulation and rest overworked muscles. Find a couple of low-risk positions that offer support and comfort and alternate between them. If you plan to do a repetitive task such as work at your desk for an extended period of time, many experts feel that you should take frequent mini-breaks of a few minutes each hour. During these breaks you could do some filing or stretches, tidy up your office, or go for a short walk. The ability to alternate between sitting and standing has become a huge trend and research has shown significant benefits to the user.

What factors should I consider when choosing a chair?

Choosing a chair can be a very personal process. Adjustability is a critical factor to consider (besides the look and budget of course). Critical adjustability includes:

  • Seat height adjustment
  • Armrest adjustment – height adjustment is critical. Rotation of the armrests and depth adjustment can also make a significant difference.
  • Lumbar support (lower back) height adjustability
  • Headrest height adjustability
  • Ability of the chair to recline and lock at various angles or adjust the tension of the reclining function.
  • Seat pan slide (not always that common).
  • Seat pan tilt – very uncommon to find.

Are there any tips for adjusting laptop positioning?

  • Elevate the laptop screen at or near eye level to lessen neck angle and head tilt.
  • Use a keyboard and mouse independent of the one on the laptop.
  • Maintain a comfortable viewing distance: typically, about an arm’s length.
  • Angle the screen to be perpendicular to line of sight.
  • Take regular rest breaks.

What are the dangers of using a laptop for work?

Laptop use has significantly increased in the workplace. However, their connected keyboards and screens defy all accepted recommendations for ergonomic computing! Research is consistently demonstrating a relationship between laptop computing and poor posture, increased neck flexion angles, neck tilting and stress, lower productivity and musculoskeletal conditions.

Alan Hedge, Professor of Ergonomics, Cornell University, wrote this regarding extensive laptop usage: “Beg, borrow or steal an external keyboard and mouse for desk work… be sure to elevate and position the screen to approximate looking at a real monitor.”

What is the best position for the monitor at my workstation?

Many people make the mistake of putting the monitor, the keyboard, or both off to one side on a desk. If you perform more than a few minutes of keyboarding a day, the keyboard and monitor should be placed directly in front of your normal sitting position. The screen should be positioned about an arm’s length from you and the top of your screen should be at about eye level.

This is also applicable when using a laptop. Use a laptop stand with sufficient height adjustability to achieve this positioning. Remember to use an external keyboard and mouse with your laptop stand.

What are the ‘triggers’ that suggest my workplace has ergonomic related problems?

If you manage a team, be on the lookout for employees in your workplace that are experiencing soft-tissue injuries such as tendonitis, wrist pain, back injuries, sore muscles and tension headaches. These are all indicators that the job’s physical demands are potentially excessive due to one or more risk factors (i.e. force levels, work postures, repetitive actions, long durations, and/or psychosocial stressors).

What is the best way to organize my workstation?

You should keep the most frequently used items within easy arms reach and on the side of your dominant hand. For instance, if you spend a lot of time on the phone and are right-handed, you should have your phone within easy arm’s reach on the right side of your workstation. Avoid awkward reaching, bending, or stretching to reach frequently used items.

Why is ergonomics important?

Unfortunately, most existing workstations do not meet ergonomic standards. Stationary desks or chairs generally can’t accommodate the individual user and will not conform to their unique height and shape, causing higher levels of stress on the body due to working in incorrect positions for extended periods of time.
Becoming ergonomically correct is not complicated. The use of adjustable sit-stand workstations, ergonomic office chairs, adjustable keyboard trays, laptop stands, monitor arms and even iPad mounts, have made it easier to attain an adjustable, customisable and healthier working environment.

What other benefits does Ergonomics offer?

  • Improved quality of work
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reducing fatigue and discomfort
  • Resulting in increased productivity.

What is Ergonomics/what does ergonomics mean?

Ergonomics is a science that helps us understand and design an optimal work environment to achieve comfort, productivity and health.

Simply defined, ergonomics is the study of how one’s body interacts with the environment when you perform a task or activity. This can be the way we work, sit, stand, sleep and do our various daily tasks. It is not only applicable to the office environment but also to areas such as manufacturing and jobs that require manual labour, which even includes picking up your protesting toddler.