Wellness in the Workplace – Proper Ergonomics at the Office

upper extremity injury

Do you sit behind a desk for hours at a time? If so, you don’t have to suffer through neck aches, back pain, sore wrists and numb fingertips! Proper office ergonomics can help reduce stress and strain on joints, allowing you to make it through your work day pain-free and productive.

Ergonomics is a scientific discipline, which is concerned with improving the productivity, health, safety, and comfort of people. In a nutshell, it’s fitting the job to the person rather than fitting the person to the job. For example, some people would be more comfortable with work space adjustments including correct placement of the keyboard, adding a lumbar support to the office chair or adjusting the height of the monitor.

Here are a few tips to make your work station an efficient and comfortable place!

Your Chair

  • Choose a chair that supports your spinal curves, with your upper and lower back supported. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Adjust armrests so your arms gently rest on them with your shoulders relaxed.
  • Better yet, speak with your employer about a standing desk option. These have gained in popularity and are readily available. They are a great option to keep you upright and energized throughout the day.

Your Keyboard and mouse

  • Proper selection and arrangement of the computer keyboard and mouse help reduce exposure to awkward postures, repetition, and contact stress. Keep the keyboard directly in front of you with shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your body. Maintain your wrists straight and in-line with your forearms. If possible, adjust the sensitivity of the mouse so 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.

Your Telephone

  • Placing the telephone too far away can cause you to repeatedly reach, resulting in strain on the shoulder, arm, and neck. If possible, keep the phone close and use a headset during prolonged conversations to maintain good neck and shoulder alignment.

Your Monitor

  • The computer monitor should be directly in front of you. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level to prevent neck/shoulder strain. Sit at least an arm’s length away from the screen, and then adjust the distance for your vision. Reduce glare by careful positioning of the screen.

The importance of taking breaks

  • Now that you have set up your ideal workstation, use good work habits! Spending hours at your desk without moving decreases blood circulation, may cause fatigue and can take a toll on your body. Take time for short stretch breaks every 30 minutes. Stand up and stretch your muscles and move your joints!

A safe and healthy work environment is a productive work environment. Whether you sit behind a desk all day or drive a truck or work in a factory, using proper ergonomics allows you to go home and enjoy life after you’re OFF the clock!

About the Author: Jennifer Hoffman, OTR/L, CHT is a certified hand therapist in our Festus, MO location. She has enjoyed caring for patients over the years and takes great pride in her impact on others’ lives. To schedule an appointment with Jennifer, request an appointment online today.