Ergonomics

Ergonomics is much more than meeting legislative requirements for occupational health and safety. It is about making your business buzz through increased productivity.

Most office staff spend a good portion of their waking hours sitting at a desk or working at a computer. Business owners need to take the right steps and create workstations that work for staff, not against them.

After all, comfortable staff are happier, satisfied staff and have less downtime. They also respect employers who take care of them.

Ergonomics:

  • increases efficiency and enhances performance
  • prevents muscle aches, eyestrain, headaches, fatigue, neck and back pain, repetitive strain and other physical injuries
  • helps avoid incorrect posture
  • enhances concentration.

Tips for you and your staff on creating a healthy, ergonomically sound workstation

Your work area

  • make sure your work area is large enough that you are comfortable
  • check that it allows for a full range of motion
  • make room for the items you use most often
  • ensure you do not have to strain to reach the items you use most often

Your work habits

  • think about your work habits and ensure you are not putting unnecessary stress on your body
  • change positions frequently so repetitive tasks do not wear you out

Your desk

  • make sure you have the right type of desk for the work you perform (size and shape)
  • keep your desk uncluttered—on top and underneath (ensure nothing interferes with your ability to sit properly)

Your chair

  • push hips as far back as they can go in your chair
  • adjust seat height so feet are flat on the floor and knees are equal to, or slightly lower than, your hips (use a footrest if your feet dangle)
  • adjust armrests (if fitted) so your shoulders are relaxed
  • if armrests are in the way, remove them
  • make sure your lower back is supported (adjust lumbar support)
  • do not maintain any one posture for more than an hour
  • finetune your chair every so often

Your keyboard

  • select the correct size and shape of keyboard for the type of work you do (many ergonomic styles are available)
  • pull up close to your keyboard
  • position keyboard directly in front of your body
  • adjust keyboard so the section you use most frequently is centred with your body
  • adjust keyboard height so your shoulders are relaxed, elbows are in a slightly open position and your wrists and hands are straight

Your mouse

  • select the correct size and shape mouse for the size of your hand (many ergonomic styles are available)
  • make sure your mouse is within easy reach
  • do not grip it too tightly
  • if the mouse bothers you, try another type of device such as a trackball or a touch pad
  • alternate hands when using your mouse (takes some time to get used to, but worth it)

Your typing habits

  • keep your wrists elevated
  • avoid hitting the keys too hard

Your monitor/screen

  • adjust your monitor/screen so it is directly in front of you, in line with your keyboard
  • adjust it so your neck is in a neutral, relaxed position
  • position the top of the monitor so it is approximately two to three inches above your eye level when seated (if you wear bifocals, lower the monitor to a comfortable reading level)
  • sit at least an arm’s length away from your screen
  • reduce glare by positioning your monitor well—at right angles to windows, out of direct sunlight etc.
  • adjust curtains or blinds as needed
  • adjust screen controls to minimise glare from overhead lights
  • use optical glass glare filters, light filters or secondary task lights to reduce glare

Your documents

  • position documents directly in front of you, between the monitor and keyboard
  • if insufficient space, place documents in a document holder positioned adjacent to the monitor

Your laptop

  • it is best to use your laptop on a table, not on your lap
  • if you use it frequently or for long periods it is best to use a separate keyboard and a mouse, rather than the in-built keyboard and mouse

Your telephone

  • place within easy reach
  • use headsets and/or speaker phone so you don’t have to cradle the phone receiver between your neck and shoulder
  • avoid multitasking when on the phone

Eye fatigue

  • rest and refocus your eyes periodically by looking away from the computer monitor and focusing on something in the distance
  • rest your eyes periodically by covering them with your palms for between 10 and 15 seconds Take breaks
  • take short breaks (1 to 2 minutes) every 20 to 30 minutes
  • after each hour at work, take a break or change tasks for between 5 and 10 minutes
  • leave your computer during lunch

Take breaks

  • take short breaks (1 to 2 minutes) every 20 to 30 minutes
  • after each hour at work, take a break or change tasks for between 5 and 10 minutes
  • leave your computer during lunch