10 Ergonomic Tips for a Healthier Workspace

Eyestrain? Sore back? It is amazing how making even small tweaks to office furnishings or work habits can make you more comfortable. To reduce your risk of injury, and improve your performance, consider these ten practical ergonomic tips for your workspace — and work style.

Check out this very useful infographics created by Knoll:

 


 

The Power of Ergonomics to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

ergonomic

 

Ergonomics is all about efficiency, less downtime, and better performance, which leads to increased productivity. Isn’t that what all businesses want? Technology has created a variety of tools for the workplace, computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones changing how we work.  Each tool presents new opportunities, as well as challenges for workers. Addressing ergonomic issues affects staff emotionally as well as physically, because it expresses the company’s core values to employees that their health and wellbeing matter.

Most ergonomic injuries happen slowly over time, so they may not be initially detected. It may seem like things are going fine in your business, but gradually poor ergonomics will become more apparent in workers from eye strain, to issues like carpal tunnel, and  back and neck strain slowing productivity. Simple things can be done to design a workplace that minimizes fatigue, stress and injuries to workers that keeps business running smoothly. Many companies are creating tools that can be easily implemented into your business.

Photo of Knoll Remix Chair, Courtesy of Knoll
Photo of Knoll Remix Chair, Courtesy of Knoll

Knoll takes an approach called “holistic ergonomics” in the development of products that address ergonomic concerns.  As the company states in a research paper produced by Knoll, called “Holistic Ergonomics™ – A New Approach”, “Thus, holistic ergonomics is all about creating products and workspaces that support how people think and move.”

Knoll’s popular Remix Chair™ is a prime example of this approach. The chair is designed for performance, as well as comfort.  “Inspired by the idea of bringing pre-existing elements together to make something entirely new, Remix pairs upholstered comfort with innovative Flex Net Matrix™ technology for active, all day support. Remix delivers unexpected performance in a familiar form. By combining traditional and innovative elements, Remix infuses movement into a traditionally static upholstered chair,” according to Knoll.

remic_01Knoll’s popular Remix Chair™ is a prime example of this approach. The chair is designed for performance, as well as comfort.  “Inspired by the idea of bringing pre-existing elements together to make something entirely new, Remix pairs upholstered comfort with innovative Flex Net Matrix™ technology for active, all day support. Remix delivers unexpected performance in a familiar form. By combining traditional and innovative elements, Remix infuses movement into a traditionally static upholstered chair,” according to Knoll.

Joya_02
Photo of Kimball Joya Chair™courtesy of Kimball

Kimball Office is also committed to creating ergonomic workplace solutions.  According to Kimball, the Kimball Joya™ Chair is designed with advanced ergonomics in mind that perfectly fits all body types and offers back support and fits any workspace.  Advanced ergonomics and material technology give the Joya its smooth-flowing movement. Thoughtfully scaled seat and back components support a wide range of body types comfortably encouraging healthy postures and reducing physical stress. Optional sliding seats modify thigh and back support for people with long legs while an adjustable lumbar option personalizes lower back comfort.

joya7

 

Both sitting all day and standing all day can be tough on the body. The Humanscale workstation standing desk makes it easy to create some balance. The QuickStand height-adjustable workstation is easy to operate.

sitstand_01
Photo by Humanscale

SitStand_03

 

National’s ergonomic keyboard kit includes a keyboard mechanism with a tray that adjusts from -15° to +15°, 360° swivel, and arm tilt that moves up and down. The mouse tray can be moved to support right or left-handed users. The keyboard kit also includes high density polyethylene tray platform, foam gel wrist pad, and thermoplastic mouse tray.

Basic_Keyboard
Photo courtesy of National Office

 

How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel

 

This is a good infographic to keep at hand. We tend to take for granted how important our hands are for just about anything we do everyday. Specially if  we seat in front of the computer the whole day.  So let’s take care of them by following some simple measures:

 

carpal

Office Ergonomics Part One: Setting Up Your Laptop As Your Desktop

This is Part One of a two-part piece about the proper ergonomic use of a laptop. Part One demonstrates how to set up a laptop as a full-fledged desktop computer without the pain and discomfort many people experience. Part Two provides recommendations for the ergonomic use of your laptop away from your desk.  On the road, in the airport or at your hotel there are a few simple things you can do to be a more comfortable and productive road warrior.

Sales of laptops have outpaced desktop computers for the last several years. Once thought essential only for the road warriors, laptops have made their way into the rest of the office.  But convenience can come at an ergonomic price.

While a laptop is very portable, it poses a range of ergonomic difficulties. Most critical is the fact that having the monitor and keyboard so close together makes it impossible to work in the proper posture. Another problem is the small size of the keyboard and mouse, which encourages the use of bad hand and wrist positions.  If you use a laptop as your primary computer and have it sitting on a desk, you need to make several adjustments:

• Attach a separate keyboard and mouse to the laptop, and put them on an external tray system that you can position at the appropriate height (not on your desk).

• Put the laptop itself on a stand, so you can raise the screen to the correct eye level.

• Tilt the screen up or down (or rotate left or right) to avoid glare.

Regardless of what type of monitor you use, you should position it to the correct level and distance. To maintain correct posture and proper head and neck position while seated at a computer, the top of the monitor screen should be at or just below your eye level. In addition, the monitor should be positioned about an arm’s reach from your face.  Note that this is the correct distance for most people.

You should adjust the position of your monitor as needed for comfortable viewing and focus. For instance, if you wear bifocals and look at the screen through your lower lenses, lower your monitor a bit and sit further back. As mentioned earlier, it’s also important to consider how the computer monitor and keyboard are positioned. In most office settings, the monitor should be aligned with the keyboard. Avoid setups in which you have to turn your head or bend your neck repeatedly to look at the monitor. For an external monitor the use of a monitor arm will allow you greater flexibility in positioning. Whatever type of monitor you use be sure to adjust the controls for brightness, contrast, etc. as needed for comfortable viewing.   Applying ergonomic principles in the workplace has two clear benefits:

• Preventing injuries

• Increasing productivity

Making ergonomic improvements will reduce the risks for repetitive stress injuries and eliminate or at least decrease their incidence in the workplace. In addition to safeguarding workers’ health and well-being, making ergonomic improvements will also decrease employee absenteeism and lower insurance and workers’ compensation costs. Even small improvements can bring about significant, measurable results  – as much as a 6 to 1 return on investment, according to some sources. This investment in safety is cost effective and applying ergonomics is good business.

 

Be sure to check back next week for Part Two: Office Ergonomics Using Your Laptop On The Road

Office Ergonomics Part Two: Using Your Laptop On The Road

This week, Part Two provides recommendations for the ergonomic use of your laptop away from your desk so you can be a more comfortable and productive road warrior.  (Last week in Part One we showed you how to set up a laptop as a full-fledged desktop computer to minimize pain and discomfort.

These days it seems that everybody has a laptop. Statistically speaking that’s not far off the mark. In an effort to make their workforce more mobile, some companies have eliminated desktop computers in favor of laptops and tablets. We showed you how to set up your laptop with proper ergonomics at work, but what can you do on the road when you don’t even have a desk?

A good rule of thumb is to get as close as you can to the desk and chair settings that you have at work. That means don’t settle for resting your laptop on a desk, table, counter, or surface that is high or far from reach. The proper setup puts your body in the “neutral posture” position (see the large illustration). A neutral posture position uses the lease amount of energy and muscle strength and helps preserve the normal forward curve of the neck vertebrae.

Often it’s just a slight adjustment that can help your computer adapt to your body rather than your body straining to adapt to the computer. In the illustration below the one on the left shows signs of pain and fatigue. By shifting the computer back and angling the keyboard, one on the right changed of the angle of the elbow and wrist. The elbow bent at a 90 degree angle is in a neutral posture position and will make the user more comfortable.

 

Tips for erogonomic laptop use in the field

  • Use a pillow or folded towels to raise your chair seat high enough so that your elbows are level or slightly higher than the keyboard (elbows around 90 degrees).
  • Ask if the hotel has a keyboard and monitor you can plug in.
  • If you can’t find a surface low enough, or a chair high enough, then your lap is always an option.
  • Sit so that your knees and hips are level. This will allow the laptop to rest comfortably on your lap.
  • Be careful not to strain your neck. Look down at the screen by tucking your chin in as opposed to bending your entire neck down, as this can cause strain and fatigue to the neck and shoulder area.
  • Try using a chair that does not have armrests to give you room to move your arms.
  • If the seat is too deep add a pillow for back support.

And finally, take frequent breaks whenever you use a computer. Remember to pace yourself. Stand up and stretch. If you feel any strains or pains, stop what you are doing and experiment with different positions. The same rules of ergonomic computer use apply to laptops as well as desktops.

The illustrations and some information in Part Two were sourced from the Comfortable Portable Computing: The Ergonomic Equation, a whitepaper from Ergotron®. Download your free copy of the whitepaper here (PDF)

 

Ergotron is a trademark of Ergotron, Inc.
‘Good Laptop Tips’ Image.  Reclining Laptop Users Image from the Comfortable Portable Computing: The Ergonomic Equation, whitepaper.