Workplace ergonomics. Sounds like this big heavy complicated concept doesn’t it? And yet nothing could be more important when you are sitting in front of a computer eight hours a day. Whether you are working in corporate America or running the latest and great entrepreneurial venture from home, it’s well worth it to consider the effect of your office setup on your health and wellbeing. Why? Because the economic costs of occupation related injuries are greater than the cost of providing an ergonomically correct workplace. Workplace injury costs can include lost wages, medical bills, insurance administrative costs and the cost to the other employees who have to pick up the slack.
What is ergonomics? According to Medword.com, “ergonomics is a science that addresses human performance and well-being in relation to various types of jobs, equipment, tools, and environment.”
1. Buy a comfortable chair. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. It must have the proper support, be height adjustable and have a tilting mechanism. If you are in a home office, a great ergonomic chair is the first investment I would ask you to make.
Here’s how to find the right one: Go to a local store and sit in many. Ensure that you can sit all the way to the back of the chair so that the back rest supports your lower back. Make sure your chair fits so that your knees are just a bit forward of the seat. Follow the 90-90-90 rule – that means that your hips, elbows and knees are each positioned at a 90 degree angle.
Other tips: Keeping your wrists straight when positioned over the keyboard will help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive wrist injuries. Keep your feet flat on the floor. This will minimize pressure on your back. If you are a little bit height challenged (I am) a foot rest works wonders.
2. Prevent eye and neck strain by positioning your computer screen at eye level. The center should be 15% below your line of sight and no more than 20″ from your eyes, just about an arm’s length distance. The eyes lead the body – if you position the monitor so that you are comfortable you will have better body posture. Using a document holder is far better than looking down at paperwork on your desk. Every thirty minutes take a break from staring at the computer screen. Blink your eyes to prevent dry eye. Focus on something not in your immediate vicinity – look out the window or at the art across the room.
3. Get up and move around every thirty minutes. Need an excuse to get up? Place your trash can out of reach. Make sure to stretch. When you are shifting tasks, do neck and shoulder rolls or wiggle your fingers. This can help prevent repetitive task injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Finding workplace ergonomics all too overwhelming? Contact us for a stress-free workplace consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a productive week!
First in a series of three on health and wellbeing in the workplace
(Photo credits: pinterest.com, ehow.com, wikipedia.com, thecollaredsheep.com)