Ergonomics literally means the study of work. In the modern work environment, we can employ ergonomic evaluation to help design workspace and work process to minimize the possibility of workers getting injured. If you perform any manual task that is repeated many times per day, ergonomic evaluation may help make your job easier and safer. For workers who use a computer more than 1 hour per day, proper configuration of your desk, chair, and computer is essential to avoid a repetitive strain injury. Repetitive strain injury is a broad category of health problems that result from posture and strain issues due to your job task. In this specific instance we are considering computer-related jobs, but many manual jobs will have similar concerns. Some health problems that can arise from daily computer use include:
-Low back pain
-Upper extremity tendonitis
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Use the following questions to help evaluate whether your current desktop setup might be leading to future problems:
1. Does your back fit snugly to the back of the chair?
2. Do your legs extend 2-4 inches beyond the edge of your seat?
3. Do your shoulders relax allowing your arms to rest comfortably at your sides?
4. Does your chair adjust to lean back?
5. Can you use your keyboard and mouse without having to reach or extend your arms?
6. When you use your keyboard, is the home row of keys about the same height as your elbows allowing your forearms to be parallel to the floor?
7. Is your mouse or pointing device within 8 inches of your keyboard?
8. If you use a telephone or other devices frequently, are they within easy reach while seated?
9. Is the top line of print you read on your monitor at or just below your eye level? 10. When you sit back comfortably in your seat, can you read the text and images on the screen without eye strain or discomfort?
11. Is your screen free of glare and reflection of lights?
12. If reading other documents while using the computer, are they able to be placed in a comfortable reading position?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, you may benefit from an evaluation and adjustment of your work station. Repetitive strain injuries related to poor workplace ergonomics may take months or even years to develop. Simple adjustments to your work station can usually prevent these injuries from occurring at all. Additionally, you may find that as you reduce tension and strain associated with your job, your overall productivity will increase and you will feel better throughout the work day.
Adapted from Cal/OSHA Department of Industrial Relations. “ Easy Ergonomics for Desktop Computer Users. ” Cal/OSHA. 2005. 1 -36