by Sam Dunn
I’m going to be bold for just a moment and assume that you spend a fair amount of time at the computer.
If you pile on hour after hour in front of a screen, maybe you should take the time to make sure you’re as comfortable as you could possibly be – which is where ergonomics comes in.
Ergonomics is the science of designing the job, equipment, and workplace to fit the worker. There are two reasons to have an ergonomic setup – health and productivity.
With that said, why not see what you can do to tweak your work environment and consequently live a longer and more productive life?
There are plenty of articles floating around that can point you in the ergonomically correct direction, but in order to make things easier, here is a quick checklist based off some of those readings. The sources are linked to at the end of the post, for those of you that feel so inclined.
- Feet should be flat on the floor, ankles at 90 degrees.
- Thighs parallel with floor and knees bent 90 degrees.
- A few inches of space between the back of your knees and the edge of the chair.
- Elbows at 90 degrees when using keyboard.
- Sit back as far as possible within the chair, it will force upright posture.
- Your armrests should act as an extension of your desk (elbow height = desk height).
- Keep the most used items within reach on your desk, minimizing reaching up or down.
- Give your monitor some personal space, put it 20″ to 30″ away from your face (an arm’s length).
- If your monitor allows tilting, aim for a 10 to 20 degree angle, which will help minimize neck movement.
- Center your monitor in front of you, to avoid unnatural neck/body twisting.
- Keep your head in a neutral position, so only your eyes have to move to see the screen, not your neck.
- Your direct line of sight should be closer to the top of the monitor, to avoid bending your neck upwards.
Keyboard and Mouse
- Relax your hand(s) and fingers.
- Arm holding mouse should be at a 90 degree angle, allowing for full arm movement.
- Wrists should be as flat as possible when using the keyboard. (Get rid of the keyboard stands)
- There have been mixed reviews about soft wrist rests (like those gel pads), although studies from University of Berkeley, California noted that they can cause unnatural angling of the wrist and can sometimes even pinch blood vessels.
Odds and Ends
- Eye Strain – According to Cornell’s Ergonomic guide, “Every 15 minutes you should briefly look away from the screen for a minute or two to a more distant scene, preferably something more that 20 feet away. This lets the muscles inside the eye relax. Also, blink your eyes rapidly for a few seconds. This refreshes the tear film and clears dust from the eye surface.”
- Stretching – If you have four minutes and a desire for your coworkers to look at you funny, you might want to consider stretching before beginning your work day.
- Workspace Planner – Punch in your height and get exact measurements to help you set up your workspace.
- Cornell Ergo Guide – A comprehensive look at everything ergonomic from Cornell University.
- CUergo: 10 Tips for Mouse Use – Another gem from Cornell, rethink how you use your mouse.’
- Workstation Assessment Checklist – A very thorough checklist to run your workstation through.
- Comfortable Computing – A whole wealth of ergonomic information.
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