5 Tips for Improving Your Workspace Ergonomics

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Female office worker sitting with the right ergonomic office set-up

Understanding workspace ergonomics can be daunting. That’s why we have prepared these five tips so you can learn how to adjust your furniture and equipment to get an ergonomic set up that suits you. With the right set-up, you will reduce muscle strain and fatigue, allowing you to gain maximum productivity and efficiency. Here are five points to consider when you are setting up your workspace for computer work.
 

#1 Adjust your Chair Correctly

Slouching in your chair puts pressure on the discs and vertebrae in your back. Your chair should be providing you with lumbar support, so adjust the backrest until you feel your lower back has support. If your feet aren’t flat on the floor, lower your chair but if that makes you too low, use a footstool. Your legs should be bent at a comfortable angle. You shouldn’t feel any pressure on your legs, and the backs of your knees shouldn’t touch the chair.
 

#2 Use Your Keyboard Safely

Ensure your keyboard is at a distance where your forearms are almost horizontal, and your wrists are straight. Your hand and forearm should be in line. Your wrists can either rest on the edge of the desk or a wrist support, but they shouldn’t be extended or bend up. Your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle and sit close to your body.

If you can’t touch type and use a 'hunt and peck' method, you are at particular risk of an overuse injury. Using one or two fingers to type causes overloading of the finger tendons, and places pressure on your wrists. Changing the position of your head constantly from looking down at the keyboard then up at the monitor can cause neck strain. Spending the time learning how to type correctly will not only improve your speed but also reduce your risk of an injury.
 

#3 Proper Placement of your Monitor

The monitor should be at a distance that allows you to focus on the screen comfortably; roughly arm’s length. The height of the monitor should be so the top of the screen is below eye level, and the centre of the screen is roughly shoulder height. If you use a document holder, place it close to the monitor, so you don’t need to move your head too much from the monitor to the document.   
 

#4 Have Everything Within Easy Reach

Equipment you use multiple times per day like the telephone, mouse, a file, pen, and paper should be within easy reach. If you need to stretch up or reach across your desk regularly to grab essential items, you are risking an injury.

If you use the telephone throughout the day, think about trading in the handset for a headset, particularly if you need both hands free to type or write notes. Jamming the phone between your ear and shoulder is not only uncomfortable but an injury risk.
 

#5 Light and Air Quality Matters

Your office lighting and air quality are important to good ergonomics.

The light coming in through windows shouldn’t produce glare on your monitor or be too bright for your eyes. Window light is best if it’s off to the side rather than behind the monitor or you. If necessary, change the orientation of your desk or adjust the window treatments to stop glare. If you need to read documents, you will need more light than if you only view a computer monitor.

Change the brightness and contrast of your monitor to find the right setting for your eyes or fit a glare filter. Remember to give your eyes a break from looking at the monitor by focusing on objects in the distance regularly. Anyone who spends too many hours in front of a computer screen is at risk of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Correct lighting can stop dry, tired eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and neck pain.  

If you are working in a space that has poor air quality due to the dust particles, pollen or mould, look at improving it with an air cleaner.

Maintain a comfortable temperature while you work. Either wear layered clothing that you can take off and add as the temperature changes or use a fan or heater.   

The way you work can have a significant impact on your body. If you are always working under pressure to tight deadlines and doing the same task for most of the day, you are at risk of an injury. Plan your days so you can mix up your work. Rather than typing all day and then a full day of meetings the next, try splitting it, so you spend two half-days in front of the screen. You will reduce the chance of an injury, add interest to your day, and cut down your stress levels.
 

Keep ergonomics top of mind throughout the day to ensure you are working correctly. If you have any concerns about the ergonomics of your office equipment, don’t hesitate to contact one of the experts on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online.