Office Ergonomics

Office Ergonomics: A Summary of Design Considerations

I am often asked how to properly set up an office space so that it is ergonomically better. Here is a list of things to consider when setting up your office space to make the office ergonomics better.

Computer workstations:

The monitor & keyboard positions, lighting and seating are especially important in preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders & eye discomfort. These aspects should be taken into consideration to prevent discomfort &/or injury.

– Neutral posture at the keyboard & mouse-arms comfortably at the sides, elbows approximately at 90 degrees, forearms parallel to floor, knees slightly below hips & wrists straight
– Chairs should meet the recommendations listed on the last page.
– The work surface should be large enough to support the keyboard, mouse monitor and documents
– The top line of the screen should be at or just below eye level to keep the neck straight (adjustable monitor arms, tables or platforms can help bring the screen to the proper height
– Screens that tilt vertically and swivel horizontally help the worker adjust the best viewing angle. Ideally, the screen should be vertical to reduce glare spots.
– Monitors should be placed 18-30 inches away from worker for viewing
– Keyboards and monitors should be detachable so the angle & position can be adjusted
– Keyboard and work-surface edges should be rounded
– Documents should be at the same height & distance as the screen
– The screen & document should be easily viewed so that the worker’s head isn’t turned to the side or tilted up or down regularly
– To prevent glare, the monitor and keyboard should be perpendicular to windows and between (not directly under) overhead lights
– Screen contrast & brightness should be easily adjustable
– Screen characters should be clearly displayed, neither wavy nor flickering
– Wrists/palms may be used to protect wrists and palms from hard or sharp edges to help keep the wrists in a neutral position. However, resting wrists on a wrist/palm rest during keying can put pressure on nerves. Wrist/palm rests should be made of soft but supporting material and be the same height as the front edge of the keyboard

Chair: Chairs should have a height-adjustable backrest to provide support for the lumbar region of the back. High-back chairs provide extra supper back support. Select a chair with easily adjusted seat pan height to permit the feet to rest flat on the ground with the upper legs parallel to the floor. A footrest may be needed by some people to achieve this position. Chairs should have a five-star based and casters compatible with the floor surface. T-armrests with adjustable height & width are recommended for intensive computer users. When seated properly, the seat pan should not hit the back of the knee

Work Surface: Work surfaces should be large enough to accommodate all the computer equipment, including a wrist rest in front of the keyboard & adequate viewing distance between the monitor & operators eyes. A keyboard tray can be used to increase depth and to provide proper keying level. There should also be enough room under the work surface to allow free leg movement. The height of the work surface should allow the forearms to be parallel with the floor when working at the computer, while not forcing the shoulders to be elevated. A footrest can assist in supporting the feet as well, allowing the employee to sit back in his/her chair

Keyboard/Input Device: The keyboard & input device (mouse or trackball) should be at the same level and in front of the operator. The height of the keyboard and input device should allow the operator to position their forearms and hands parallel to the floor. Achieve this by adjusting the height of the chair &/or table, or by using an adjustable tray. A padded wrist rest for the keyboard and input device should be used to prevent the operator’s wrists from coming in contact with the work surface when the arms are at rest. Avoid overreaching by keeping the input devices close to the body.

Monitor (Terminal): Position the monitor directly in front of the operator with the screen at approximately ee level. One exception is bifocal wearers who may prefer a slightly lower monitor level. Monitors should have good contrast, sharp focus, and be free from flickering and glare to minimize eye strain.

Phone headset: Headsets reduce awkward neck and shoulder postures, notably by eliminating the habit of cradling the phone between the shoulder and chin. Headsets are particularly beneficial for people who work on the phone and computer simultaneously.

Carpet Mat: This is helpful when the operator moves around often at the workstation

Lighting: Excessive lighting can cause glare and eye discomfort. Dimming overhead lights and use of a task lamp can reduce eye fatigue. Monitor shades and glare screens can be used to reduce glare. Adjust monitor contrast and brightness for max, personal comfort.

Preferred Features when shopping for better office ergonomics:

Chairs:
Pneumatic seat pan height adjustment
Backrest height adjustment
Backrest angle adjustment and tilt lock (or strong tension adjustment)
Adequate lumbar support
Swivel
Arm rest height and width adjustment
5 support legs with casters
Keyboard platform:
Height adjustable
Retractable
Extended to accommodate the mouse (28 inches)
Built-in soft wrist (not the metal lip); or enough room for an add-on wrist rest (optional)
Make sure there will be adequate leg room once the keyboard drawer is installed

Table & Desk:
Adjustable work surface (ideal with keyboard & monitor surface adjusted separately)\Adequate dimensions (min of 30 inches wide by 30 inches long)
Work surface edges and corners are smooth, without sharp edges
2 inch maximum surface thickness
Adequate leg clearance and space
Non-glare finish

Foot rest:
Firm
At least 12 inches wide & 12 inches deep
Height adjustable (optional)

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