For office workers, or those with a home office, creating an ergonomic workstation is vital. Many office workers spend at least 8 hours a day at their workstation and having a set up that is not aligned correctly to your body’s needs will often cause poor posture, resulting in neck pain, back pain or RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury).
Some things to consider when setting up a computer workstation include:
This should be placed a minimum of 20 inches away from you, but the further away the better as long as the monitor can easily be seen and read. The centre of the monitor should be at approximately a 15 degree angle down from your eyes, and facing straight onwards. This helps to prevent neck strain from looking to far up, down, left or right to the monitor. It should feel comfortable to view, and the height should be adjusted should you feel any neck strain or muscle tiredness.
It is important that your wrists are at a natural, relaxed angle when typing. A common cause of RSI can be the wrong typing position, or a cramped position. Make sure there is enough space for the keyboard and your arms and wrists, ensuring that paperwork is not encroaching into the space and causing a poor typing angle. The part of your arm a few inches from your wrist can be used to rest on the table or workstation, allowing free movement of wrists and hands to type. Do not use a wrist rest, while typing for long periods as this is not what it is designed for and can cause more difficulties.
The mouse should be near to the keyboard and at exactly the same level. Find a position that is comfortable for you, that does not feel like you are overreaching and is comfortably reached by your hand when moving from the keyboard.
The position of your chair is vital and there are many ways the position can be altered to best align with your needs. All office chairs (and tables if possible) should be height adjustable at the bare minimum to ensure you are the correct height for your desk and computer monitor. Your feet should be able to comfortably be placed on the floor. The chair should have a high back if possible and should support your shoulders as well as your lumber region.
If the chair back is uncomfortable, or more support is needed, a lumbar support can be purchased and strapped on to the chair. If the chair has arm rests, see if these are adjustable, and make sure they support your arms at a comfortable position to type on the keyboard with. The back of your knees should be at least an inch away from the edge of the seat, and some people will find it best to use a foot rest which is slightly tilted in order to hold a good leg position while sitting in the chair.
Whilst following these tips on creating an ergonomic workstation should help to stop a worker getting back pain, neck pain or RSI, it is also important to ensure you get up regularly and move around and away from the workstation.
Author Colin McDonald. From someone who has suffered from RSI for years due to too many long hours at a pc, an adjustable height table is something that was a godsend to me (along with some other adjustments to my workspace).