Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Proper Ergonomic Position While Working

Although I am quite confident that you are more than familiar with the proper workstation ergonomics by now, I can never be too sure.  In order to be absolutely 100% positive that you are completely aware of how you should position yourself in the workplace in order to maximize your productivity and overall satisfaction, let’s take the time to go over the key components of how you should properly position yourself while working.

For starters, let’s discuss the details relating to how you should sit at your desk on a daily basis.  First, I encourage you to seriously consider investing in a fully adjustable desk chair.  You should have a desk chair that provides you with the ability to adjust the seat height, the lumbar support, the arm rests, and the seat pan of this chair with ease.  The height of your seat should be adjusted so that the entire soles of both of your feet are able to rest flat on the floor, the highest point of your seat should be just below your kneecaps, and you should be able to bend both of your legs comfortably at the knees.  In order to ensure firm support of the small of your lower back, you must modify the height of your chair’s backrest appropriately.  Your elbows should rest lightly on your chair’s armrests at the same height as the keyboard on your desk so as to allow your wrists to be in a neutral position while typing.  Additionally, your upper arms should be positioned straight up and down for the most part, while your forearms should be either horizontal or angled slightly downward.  The seat of your desk chair should facilitate complete and comfortable thigh support in order to avoid any potential muscle aches, cramps, or stiffness.  Finally, it is important that the space beneath your work surface has sufficient room above your legs to allow for different positions, for example, the comfortable crossing of your legs. 

Next, your work surface should have plenty of space so that your most frequently used documents and equipment can be conveniently and comfortably reached.  In order to prevent eye strain, neck pain, and shoulder fatigue, you must be mindful of the following guidelines on how to properly position your computer monitor on your work surface.  First, it is important that you strategically position your monitor screen on your desk so as to prevent any overhead or window light from causing an offensive glare.  By ensuring that the top edge of your monitor screen is exactly at eve level, you will effectively avoid straining your neck because you will thus be able to see everything on your screen clearly without having to look up at all.  Next, you should place your monitor approximately 18 to 28 inches, about an arm’s length, away from your eyes, and you should always focus on centering your body in front of your monitor and keyboard.  It is a good idea to position a document holder either between your monitor screen and keyboard platform, or right next to your monitor screen on the same side as your dominant eye and at approximately the same angle and height as the screen.  This will allow you to store any important documents within easy reach so as to avoid any unnecessary twisting and prevent from painfully straining your neck, arms, shoulders, and/or back muscles.

Now let’s move on to discuss the characteristics of a proper keyboard and mouse setup in the workplace.  You should first choose a mouse that fits comfortably within your hand and allows your hand to rest relatively flat in order to minimize any strain on your wrist.  You should place your keyboard and mouse together on a platform directly in front of you and beneath your monitor.  This platform should have the ability to move from side to side, up and down, forward and backward, and lock securely in place.  You should adjust the height of this platform so that you are able to rest your hands lightly on your keyboard or mouse with your forearms still supported comfortably by your chair’s armrests.  Your wrists should remain as straight as possible, and approximately a 90 degree angle should be maintained between your upper arms and forearms while operating both your keyboard and your mouse.  You should never allow your wrists to rest while typing.  Instead, you should always strive to keep them in a neutral position.  Finally, it would be ideal to invest in both a keyboard and a mouse that come with wrist rests which you may use when you are taking a break from typing or operating your mouse.

In general, you should always try to avoid remaining in one position for an extended period of time and repeating the same motions over and over again.  Focus on varying your tasks in the workplace in order to switch up your body position and encourage different movements.  You should always remember that the human body was not designed to sit still for prolonged periods of time, even if you are maintaining perfect posture.  Regardless of where you are working or who you are working for, you should always be able to take regular breaks to stand up, strech your muscles, and even walk around in order to increase your energy levels, stimulate circulation and brain activity, fight fatigue, and keep yourself alert and focused throughout your workday.

By the time you have reached this paragraph, you have officially commenced the exciting and informative journey to becoming an ergonomic expert.  I can now declare with confidence that you have come to a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics associated with the proper ergonomic position while working.  So, with all of that said, I urge you to keep an eye out for our next post in which we will discuss how to best prevent aches and pains related to incorrect ergonomic practices throughout the workday.

For more information about innovative ergonomic workspace solutions, please visit the Ergotech website at www.ergotechgroup.com.

-Written by Julia Cavaliere – Ergotech Group, INC.