As told in our previous post, ergonomics is the study of human capabilities in line with the occupational requirements/demands. It is very important to have the right ergonomic adjustments of your workstation (ergonomic workstation) so you can perform optimally. Spending long hours at work, in front of the computer, slowly but gradually leads to a compromised state of health, making the human body vulnerable to various musculoskeletal disorders. Long-standing problems can further lead to disabilities, at times beyond repair through conservative management, or even surgery.
Thus, it is very important to set up our workspace. This is the first step towards prevention from, and even cure of, the various musculoskeletal disorders arising from the occupational hazards. The most common problems faced due to the occupational demands involve neck pain, back pain, headaches, pain in the wrists, hands, and fingers, neurological involvement leading to radiating pain, numbness and tingling, and loss of sensation in the upper and lower extremities, and nausea/vomiting/dizziness.
Setting up of your Work-Space
The key points to remember while giving your workspace a makeover are
- Choosing the right chair
- Good posture maintenance and positioning
- Equipment height adjustment and positioning
Taking care of these will make your work experience as comfortable as possible, and will help you cater to your job duties and responsibilities optimally.
The chair should support the contour of your spine. The height of the chair should be adjusted such that the feet rest comfortably flat on the floor/footrest. The thighs should be well supported and parallel to the floor. The armrests should enable your forearms to gently and comfortably rest on them while maintaining relaxed shoulders. The seat should be comfortable and firm (neither too hard on the buttocks, nor too soft making you slouch). An ergonomic chair is very helpful in this.
If the height of the chair is too high and not adjustable, or the height of the desk forces you the keep your chair high, and your feet do not rest flat on the floor, always use a footrest. If a footrest is not available, a low stool or any object with a flat surface and a good stable flat base can be used for the same.
Desk height is very important to maintain a good and comfortable workspace. It should be in accordance with the body posture mentioned above. If the height is too low, use sturdy blocks or objects to raise the height accordingly. If the height is too high and can’t be adjusted, the chair height can be raised as explained. There should be enough room under the desk for the knees, thighs, and feet. Make sure there is nothing stored under the desk making it cramped-up for the lower body. If the edges of the top surface of the desk are hard, pad the edges. The surface should not be rough either, smooth surface enables the forearm and wrists to glide through comfortably. Ergonomic desktops are easily available in the markets.
The objects frequently used, like the stationaries, work materials, and the telephone should be kept as close to the body as possible to enable comfortable reaching without altering the body posture much. If an object is needed to be kept away, always make sure to reach it after standing up without bending or trying too hard from sitting position.
If your job requires you speak over the phone while writing/typing at the same time, make sure you use the speaker phone function than uncomfortably cradling the receiver between the head and the shoulder.
Keyboard and mouse
Keep the keyboard and mouse at a level that enables you to keep your wrists straight, upper arms close to the body, forearms well supported, and hands at or slightly below the level of elbows. Focus on keeping the use of the mouse as minimal as possible by using keyboard shortcuts (enhancing your skills may prove worthy here). Also, if possible, be as ambidextrous as possible by alternating hands for operating the mouse.
Place the monitor directly in front of the level of the eyes, approximately at about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below the eye level and should be directly behind the keyboard. An additional lowering of the monitor for 1-2 inches helps in more comfortable viewing with use of bi-focal glasses. The brightest source of light should be at the side of the monitor and not directly in front or behind the monitor.
Also, make sure you take proper rest and stretch breaks every 30 minutes.