Did you know that more than two-thirds (68%) of working Americans use a computer at work? As a result of the explosion of computers as a necessary tool for our communication and work environment, we are experiencing physical strain on the body. This is a result of improper ergonomics when it comes to the proper way to use a computer through our sitting, location of the keyboard and amount of breaks during the day.
Working at a computer can contribute to back, neck and shoulder pains, eyestrain and overuse injuries of the hands and wrists. There can be a reduction in circulation to the muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments and can result in stiffness and pain. Symptoms of overuse injuries in the upper limbs include pain, swelling, stiffness of the joints, weakness and numbness. The risks can be reduced or eliminated with proper workstation design, improved posture and good working habits.Poor posture, lack of proper equipment and incorrect ergonomic information are all contributing factors to an improper computer setup station. Working at a computer can cause a lot of distress in a number of different parts of the body.
Here are some key points:
•Ergonomics should be based on facts, research, experimentation and theory using body mechanics as a base line for your work station
•Ergonomics is personal and what works for someone else may not work for you
•Keyboard height and angle should be set properly. In the proper position, the keyboard should be placed just above the level of your lap. This is lower than most people normally place their keyboard, but let’s your arms tilt downward while using the keyboard, leaving your elbows at a comfortable “open” angle.
•The keyboard should never be placed on top of your desk
•Monitor should be at eye level
•Do not sit in an upright, rigid position
•Do not lean forward, this causes lower back strain and upper shoulder constriction
•Do not work for long periods of time without taking a break, stretching and moving around. This will prevent Deep Vein ThrombosisLighting:
•Do not use task lighting at work•A mix of incandescent and fluorescent lights reduces flicker and provides good light color. This prevents squinting and straining face muscles as well as reducing the potential for headaches
•Do NOT use the keyboard supports to raise the back up. Do NOT tilt the keyboard tray so that the back of the keyboard is higher than the front
•A positive angle is a repetitive stress injury (such as carpel tunnel) waiting to happen.
•Do NOT use a wrist rest while actively typing. It’s meant to rest on not to lean on when working.Mouse•Place the mouse on the same level as and immediately next to the keyboard tray
•Keep the mouse in the arc line of the keyboard so that you can reach it when rotating your arm from the elbow
•Do NOT use a wrist rest while using the mouse. Your forearm needs to be free to move so you do not strain your wrist
Chair and Posture
•Adjust the height of the chair so your feet can rest completely on the floor
•Allow 1-3 inches between the edge of the seat and the back of your knees
•Use a high back chair that supports your shoulder blades if at all possible
•Don’t keep your feet flat on the floor. Move them around often. Use a foot rest if you have one, but only part of the time. Do NOT cross your ankles.
•Let your upper arms hang naturally from your shoulders.
•Keep your wrists straight
•Take frequent breaks. 10 minutes for every hour of work and 30 second micro-breaks every 10 minutes is a good schedule.