There's so much information on the internet regarding ergonomics. It can be overwhelming when starting your journey towards an ergonomic workspace. Let's look at ergonomic workspace basics. I'll try to give you some quick guidelines for positive changes that you can make immediately.
“To understand the best way to set up a computer workstation, it is helpful to understand the concept of neutral body positioning. This is a comfortable working posture in which your joints are naturally aligned. Working with the body in a neutral position reduces stress and strain on the muscles, tendons, and skeletal system and reduces your risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD)”1.
ADJUST YOUR WORKSPACE TO FIT YOU
An ergonomic workspace assessment is a great first step. A huge impact on pain and fatigue reduction while you work is achieved when you have all your office equipment at the correct distance, angle and height for your personal needs. Make sure that your chair, computer monitor, input devices and desk height all support your personal fit. One helpful tool to assist with this is an assessment tool like the one on our website.
Fit your workspace to you, rather than the other way around. Your working environment needs to support and conform to you to guard against injury-related discomfort and MSDs (musculoskeletal disorder).
PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU'RE SITTINGIt’s important to remain mindful of your sitting posture and support throughout your workday. "The following are important considerations when attempting to maintain neutral body postures while working at the computer workstation.
- Hands, wrists, and forearms are straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor.
- Head is level, forward facing, and balanced. Generally, it is in-line with the torso.
- Shoulders are relaxed and upper arms hang normally at the side of the body.
- Elbows stay in close to the body and are bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
- Feet are fully supported by the floor or a footrest may be used if the desk height is not adjustable.
- Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly.
- Thighs and hips are supported and generally parallel to the floor.
- Knees are about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward" 1
These adjustments will dramatically improve the way you feel at the end of the day. This will keep you focused on the task at hand rather than how sore and tired you are.
YOUR BEST POSTURE IS YOUR NEXT POSTURE
“A sit-stand workstation was developed to incorporate the ergonomic benefits of both a seated and standing posture, with the ultimate goal being a computer user not having to choose between sitting and standing. A good ergonomic practice is adopting a variety of good postures throughout the workday. In fact, some ergonomists say “your best posture is your next posture”2.
It's easy to stop paying attention to your posture throughout the working day. Set an alarm on your phone or computer to prompt you if you're finding yourself reverting to an uncomfortable posture and/or not adjusting it frequently. This will help to remind you until it becomes a habit.
Incorporate a change to break up your workday and to prevent you from remaining in one position the entire day. Alternating between sitting and standing will make a huge difference if your tasks require you to remain at your computer for extended periods (an hour or more). Be sure that, whichever sit-stand solution you choose, you're able to use it with proper ergonomic positioning while sitting or standing.
“Logically, the real benefit of sit-stand workstations is just that, changing between sitting and standing. "Do I need a sit-stand workstation?" This is a question many employees will ask of their health and safety professional. If that’s you, maybe this response will help. If you are currently happy with your workstation design, experience little or no back discomfort, have a job that requires you to frequently leave your desk during the course of the day, or have flexibility in your work schedule to leave your desk when you want, then you are most likely not a candidate for a sit-stand workstation.” 2
USE CAUTION WITH "ERGONOMIC WORKSPACE SOLUTIONS"
Try to avoid any of the fads that people suggest when it comes to creating some movement in your work life. There are some office accessories and furniture options that seem like a great idea. However, they don't actually create an ergonomic workspace. We've previously voiced our thoughts on so-called “solutions” like treadmills, desk risers and exercise balls in the workplace.
KEEP WORKING AT ITErgonomic workspace awareness doesn’t come naturally. Being intentional is necessary to forming strong habits. Over time, you'll experience an impact on your personal wellbeing, during your work-life and when you're not working. These tips are just the beginning, you can find out more detailed solutions through our previous blog posts such as:
- Ergonomic Seating
- 6 Tips for Using Your Laptop in Comfort
- 3 Facts That Impact Your Adjustable Height Workspace Choices
- 1 US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- 2 Getting the most from a sit-stand workstation by Cynthia Roth.
- 3 An applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely — called also biotechnology, human engineering, human factors, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ergonomics.