The goal of ergonomics is to improve human well-being and maximize human performance; meaning, if you adhere to ergonomic standards, you will ensure the good health of your employees while maintaining high productivity. Proper design can help prevent injuries, but education is just as important. Congress created OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) in 1970 to educate people and safeguard the safety of employees in all fields. Thousands of pages have been written about ergonomics, but here are some major points to take away:
What are some proper ergonomics for the office?
- Correct chair height
- Adequate equipment spacing
- Good desk posture
- Ergonomic products:
- Chairs, keyboard and mouse, telephone, desks…
What should I look for when buying ergonomic furniture?
- Who will be using the furniture? Gender, weight, height, left or right handed…
- What is the nature of the task being done? Lots of typing, graphics…
- What factors in the work environment play a role? Office space, light sources, types and sizes of the computers, interaction with co-workers, floor plan…
Furniture with an adjustable range is preferable so different people can use it without discomfort. One perfect example of this type of ergonomic furniture is the sit-to-stand desk, which can improve your health. Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to obesity, increased blood pressure and high blood sugar, among other things.
Getting a sit-to-stand desk is a great solution, but you still need to know the correct way to use one:
Place the monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level. If you wear bifocals, lower the monitor an additional 1 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm) for more comfortable viewing. Place your monitor so that the brightest light source is to the side.
If you have dual monitors, the location of the monitors depends on the percentage of time you spend on each monitor and the type of work being done. If you use both monitors equally, place them close together on an angle in front of you with their edges touching. If you use one monitor more than 80 percent of the time, place that monitor directly in front of you and the other monitor off to the side.
Keyboard and mouse
Place your mouse and keyboard on the same surface and at a distance that allows you to keep your elbows close to your body. While typing or using your mouse, keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows. Use keyboard shortcuts to reduce extended mouse use. If possible, adjust the sensitivity of the mouse so that you can use a light touch to operate it. Alternate the hand you use to operate the mouse by moving the mouse to the other side of your keyboard.
Keep key objects — such as your telephone, stapler or printed materials — close to your body to prevent excessive stretching.
If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset rather than cradling the phone between your head and neck.