What is Ergonomics?
The International Ergonomics Association defines ergonomics as the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.
33% of workplace injury and illnesses are caused by musculoskeletal disorders that are largely preventable through proper ergonomic design and assessment.
According to OSHA, work- related musculoskeletal disorders (WR-MSDs) account for 15-20 billion dollars a year in direct costs paid by employers not including indirect costs such as lost productivity.
60,000 people each each require time away from work due to WR-MSDs.
7 Office Tips for Good Ergonomics
Elbows 90 degrees and forearms parallel to floor - While using a keyboard, elbows should look like right angles, which can usually be achieved by adjusting chair or desk height. In other words, hands should not be higher or lower than elbows when performing a repetitive task like typing.
Feet flat on floor and ankles 90 degrees - Crossing your legs under the desk is a hard habit to break, but ergonomic experts agree your feet should stay flat on the floor for most of your work day. Can't achieve this position while maintaining elbows at 90 degrees at keyboard? Then, consider a slanted foot rest.
Shoulders relaxed and level - Feel sore on your dominant side's shoulder? Chances are your shoulders are uneven due to repetitive computer mouse or phone usage. Take a moment to analyze and adjust the height of both shoulders as you work. Even better, take a break to stretch and relax your shoulders by slowly raising and lowering your shoulders, rolling your shoulders backwards and forwards, and squeezing together your shoulder blades.
Back support - A simple lumbar pillow or rest, or swapping out to an office chair with adjustable lumbar section to provide increased back support can make all the difference in comfort or pain reduction.
Wrist in neutral position - A wrist in neutral is not flexed (positioned up), extended (positioned down), or deviated (side to side) for prolonged periods of time. This can be achieved by simple mindfulness when using keyboard, adjusting desk or chair height, or by using a padded wrist rest in front of the computer.
Visual rest every 20 minutes - Eyes feel tired? Trouble focusing? Dry, red eyes? These are common complaints of prolonged staring at a monitor (which, by the way should about an arm's length from your eyes). Give yourself a visual rest every twenty minutes by looking at something else 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.
Regular stretch breaks - In addition to shoulder stretching, performing neck rolls, head tilts, wrist and hand stretches regularly in your workday can prevent MSDs. Consider standing workstations for a change of position, or simply a short walk to stretch your legs a bit. Add a post-it reminder or even set a timer for visual and physical breaks.