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The Ergonomic Workplace

Most office staff spend a good portion of their waking hours sitting at a desk or working at a computer. Take the right steps to create an ergonomic workplace, and make your business buzz through increased productivity.

Tips for an Ergonomic Workplace

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