A step-by-step guide on how to improve your workplace ergonomics
How many hours do you spend sitting at a desk? If it’s anything like most of us, then the answer would be ‘a lot’!
In my previous jobs, before retraining as a chiropractor, I spent between 7 and 9 hours per day sitting down in front of a PC. That’s a HUGE proportion of the day. A bad desk setup or chair can have a big impact on how you feel and how your spine works simply because of the time spent in that position.
That is why it is very important to make sure your workplace ergonomics are correct.
In this blog post we will discuss how you can set up your desk to be the best possible situation for you to spend time at (remember, sitting all day is never going to be a good thing, even with perfect ergonomics).
To start with, have a look at your chair – is the height and position correct for you?
When sitting, your knees should be bent to 90 degrees, as should your arms at desk-level. See the picture below.
You should always use a lumbar roll if you have an office job; it maintains the natural curve of the lumbar spine and reduces flexibility of the lower back and slumping of the shoulders. Essentially, it helps you keep a better posture which is more stable for the back. See my previous blog on lumbar roll use for more details.
Now check your desk, as this must also be at the correct height.
Your arms should be at 90 degrees when your forearms reach the desk, and your chair should be able to push underneath it, so you don’t need to lean forward to reach your keyboard and books. Everything on top of your desk that you need to get to should be within easy reach; no twisting to reach the printer on the floor!
You can also get various aids to help make your wrists more comfortable if you suffer with wrist issues, such as ergonomic mouse pads, and gel pads to fit to your keyboard if needed.
Ok, now look at your monitor.
Ideally, you should have a desktop monitor if you work all day at the same workstation. Working from a laptop is problematic for your posture because it becomes impossible to keep the keyboard and screen in the optimal position. If you do work from a laptop, it is advisable to invest in a separate keyboard and monitor to plug in for those extended periods of time at your desk.
The reason it is important to have a monitor on the desk is that it should be at eye level. Keeping your eyes looking straight ahead prevents your head from dipping forwards, which places pressure on your neck, shoulders and back. If you find that your chin juts out and you lean forwards while you work, take a moment to assess your desk environment.
We sometimes use shelves to perch our monitors on here at Lushington. Monitors should be within arm’s reach so you aren’t tempted to lean forward to squint at it!
At home I also change my screen resolution so that the icons and text are larger. This isn’t just for those with poor vision; it actually makes it easier to see what you’re doing.
Lastly, remember that it is vitally important to fit in regular breaks when working at a desk. Get up at least three times an hour to walk around, and have a large glass of water on the desk to remind you to keep hydrated!
I hope this article has been a useful guide for workplace ergonomics. Thanks for reading.
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