Ergonomic Workstation Essentials to Maximize Worker Wellness
An ergonomic workstation is essential for wellness in the workplace. It’s not simply a matter of keeping workers comfortable and relaxed during their shifts. Office workers are particularly vulnerable to musculoskeletal disorders that are prompted by poor posture. Ergonomic office furniture is an effective way to provide a safe work environment that helps to prevent work-related injuries.
In addition to providing ergonomic workstations, employers need to make sure everything is set up properly. An HSE report said 470,000 workers suffered from new or long-standing work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2020-21. If workstations aren’t used the proper way, they can’t help bring that number down. In this article, we’ll review the ins and outs of workstation ergonomics and how you can maximize your productivity and prevent injury. (1)
What you need for an ergonomic workstation
Ergonomic furniture is a workplace staple, but how does it practically factor into a work environment?
Set up your desk
A desk contributes to ergonomics in several ways. First, it should be the correct height. A desk that’s too low may prevent you from adjusting your chair. It may also squeeze your legs in between the chair and the desk. This can be uncomfortable, not to mention the possibility of cutting off your circulation.
A height-adjustable desk can help promote healthy movement throughout the day for a worker who alternates between sitting and standing. You should also ensure the desk has enough space for your arms to rest comfortably at a 90-degree angle.
Set up your chair
Ideally, you should have an ergonomic office chair. This means it should follow the natural curve of your spine. An ergonomic chair should also have features like an adjustable height, adjustable back tilt, swivel, and lumbar support.
Now that you’ve chosen a chair, your next step is to use it properly. Push your pelvis and hips as far back as they can go in the office chair. Adjust the seat height so that your feet rest flat on the floor. Your knees should belevel with or slightly lower than your hips.
Adjust the backrest tilt to a slightly reclined angle of 100 to 110 degrees. Make sure you have both upper and lower back support. You should never be leaning forward in your chair. This causes excess spinal pressure and can lead to major musculoskeletal injuries. Use cushions or small pillows if necessary to support the small of your back. If you have armrests, adjust them so your shoulders are relaxed and your forearms comfortably rest. If the armrests are in the way, remove them.
Set up your keyboard and mouse
A keyboard tray can help you maintain a neutral position as you work at your ergonomic workstation. However, it should have enough space to accommodate the mouse, provide leg clearance, and have adjustable height and tilt mechanisms. Pull up close to your keyboard. The keyboard should be square in front of your body.
Adjust the keyboard height as necessary. Your shoulders should be relaxed, elbows in a slightly open position. Your wrists and hands should be directly in front of you. The tilt of your keyboard depends on your sitting position. You can adjust the angle by using the keyboard tray mechanism or keyboard feet.
Wrist and palm support can help to maintain neutral postures and pad hard surfaces. It can also help prevent repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. Avoid using excessively wide wrist support that is higher than your keyboard’s space bar. Your hands should be able to move freely and remain elevated above the rest while typing. You may need to adjust the height of your workstation or chair to get your keyboard in a comfortable position.
Move the mouse close to the keyboard. You shouldn’t have to over-extend your arm past a neutral position to reach it. For maximum comfort and support, look into buying an ergonomic keyboard. These often have a curved or split design to accommodate a more natural lower-arm placement.
Set up your monitor, documents, etc.
Incorrect positioning of the screen or source documents can cause you to spend hours in awkward or unnatural postures. Try to adjust the monitor or source documents so that your neck is in a relaxed and neutral position. Place the monitor directly in front of you and above your keyboard.
Now, make sure your monitor is at the correct height. The optimal height is with the top third of the monitor positioned at your seated eye level. If you experience neck pain or fatigue, the monitor may need adjusting. If it’s a laptop, try using an adjustable laptop stand if necessary. If you have two monitors, use a swivel chair to alternate between the screens.
Sit an arm’s length away from the screen, then adjust the distance for your vision.
Reduce eye strain and glare however you need to. This may mean turning off overhead lights, adjusting the screen angle, closing blinds, or installing an anti-glare screen.
Position any source documents directly in front of you on a stand, between the monitor and the keyboard. If you don’t have enough space, place the documents on a document holder adjacent to the monitor.
Take breaks, keep moving
Once you’ve set up your computer workstation correctly, your next task is to use it properly. Despite how ergonomic your workstation is, prolonged, static postures prevent proper blood circulation and take a toll on your body. Every 20-30 minutes, take short walking or stretching breaks. After each hour of work, take a 5-10 minute break or change tasks.
Eye strain or fatigue is a common concern for those who work exclusively at the computer. (2) To avoid this, try refocusing your eyes periodically. Ideally, you should follow the “20-20-20″ rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from the monitor and focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
While it’s imperative to use correct posture when working, it’s even more critical to incorporate healthy movement. If you’re not moving enough, try alternative ergonomic seating like an ergonomic stool. These can promote healthy movement and posture while you work.
Setting up your ergonomic workstation
The key element in setting up ergonomic workstations is maintaining a neutral position that minimizes strain and promotes healthy movement. As you’re setting up your own ergonomic workstation, check out the stylish and award-winning solutions Sedus offers. Contact Sedus today to find out how to maximize your workplace ergonomics.
1 Work-related musculoskeletal disorders statistics in Great Britain, 2021
2 Digital Eye Strain: prevalence, measurement, amelioration