The aim of ergonomics is to make work more enjoyable and to improve both health and performance. By rearranging, changing or altering existing furniture and tools, many ergonomic issues can be solved, so don't be in too much of a hurry to run out and buy the next great ergonomic "THING."
Officewise, a guide to health and safety in the workplace created by the Victorian WorkCover Authority Ergonomics Team, is one of the easiest to follow instructions for every office set up.
TIP SHEET: Back Treatment and Configuration of Chair
We recognize that sitting for long periods can have detrimental effects for our wellbeing, and that daily breaks can help avoid and alleviate aches and pains when they arise along with standing for part of the day. It is often not possible to stop sitting, however, at which times it is necessary to ensure that your office chair is set up to provide your back with optimum support.
Follow these basic measures to set up your office chair correctly:
Adjusting the Height of the Chair
Sit straight on your chair, roll your shoulders up and back, and allow your arms to hang around your sides loosely. Place your elbow at the right angle and hold your wrist straight. On top of your keyboard, the underside of your hand can now rest naturally. If it is not, change your chair to allow your hand to rest on the keyboard, up or down. (Do not move your hands and arms!)
Other Changes to Chair
Adjust the back in or out, up or down, or slide it in or out if the seat has a sliding seat mechanism, so that you can feel the lumbar support in your back 's lower curve. It should be both firm and comfortable, while offering support for your back's natural Make sure that the seat's base angle is either neutral or slightly forward, so that the front of the chair does not dig into your thighs. And note, no chair, no matter how well it's set up, unless you sit proactively with the right posture, will keep you from slouching. The trick is to keep your stance in mind at all times, ensuring that your spine remains lifted and your shoulders are rounded back.
Steps for establishing your workspace
Adjust the height of the chair so that your elbows are at the level of the desktop (roll your shoulders back and first relax them). Sit back in your chair entirely, adjust the back seat for good lower back support, use a lumbar roll if your lower back is not supported by the back of the chair. Set it so that you are comfortably supported if your chair seat has a tilt option. Use a footrest if your feet do not hit the floor comfortably or there is pressure on the backs of your legs.
Locate your display so that at or below eye level the top third of the viewing area is. If required, use the monitor stand. As long as you can see the contents of the computer clearly, there is no particular distance you need to be from the display.
With elbows at the level of the desk, make sure your wrists are straight. If possible, use wrist rests and try to adjust them if you have armrests so that they support your arms without being too high or too low.
Place the mouse as close to the keyboard as is possible, so that when operating, both elbows are directly under the shoulders. You will need to consider buying a mini keyboard if this is not feasible.
A document holder may be located between the keyboard and display to minimize tension on the neck when working from paper papers. If you need to use the screen when talking on the phone, it can help prevent neck and shoulder strain, either place the phone on the loudspeaker (depending on the office environment) or use a phone headset. Pad the edge of your desk using your mouse pad or another soft surface. Stop pressing any desk edge on your hands or forearms.
Change the brightness and contrast of the screen for easy and convenient viewing and periodically clean the screen. Consider the 20-20-20 law as well: look away from the display for 20 seconds every 20 minutes at a distance of 20 meters. This helps prevent pressure on the eyes.
Finally, and very critically, remember to take breaks for 1 or 2 minutes on a regular basis, preferably every 45 minutes to an hour. Go get a glass of water for a colleague to talk to, etc.
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