Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ideal Workstation Set-up for a Good Posture

Source: (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)

If you use a computer extensively (several hours each day), many experts recommend that you consider proper workstation layout and posture techniques to minimize your risk of developing injuries of the hand/arm, shoulder, neck, and back.

Many experts suggest that the ideal workstation lets you work in natural (neutral) postures that may minimize strain on your body. A workstation mismatched with your body may force vulnerable individuals into uncomfortable postures such as hunching over, slouching, straining, or twisting.

Some believe that working for extended lengths of time in unnatural positions may be related to musculoskeletal injury. These experts note that problems with workstation set up for some persons may include using a chair that is the wrong height or size or does not support your back and incorrect height of work surfaces (desktop and keyboard), monitor, and source documents.

Many people find that a good chair is one that adapts to their bodies. You may want to choose one that is stable and adjusts easily for height and tilt. Consider a chair with a backrest that supports the curve of your lower (lumbar) back. Sit back in the chair when you work at a computer.

Experts suggest that you consider positioning your thighs horizontal with your knees at about the same level as your hips. Rest your feet comfortably on the floor or on a footrest if you need one.

Some experts advise that your chair should also:
- Support your forearms with adjustable armrests that position your elbows near your waist.
- Have a padded seat with a pan at least one inch wider than your hips and thighs.
- Slope down slightly and allow a 2 to 3 finger breath-space between the seat cushion and the back of your knees when sitting.
- Consider a base with at least 5 points that roll on wheels (casters).

Work Surfaces
Many people may be most comfortable when the height of the desks is at about elbow level when sitting down. Check that there is enough room below the work surface to comfortably fit your knees and thighs.

Consider having the height of the surface holding your keyboard and mouse or trackball about 1 to 2 inches above your thighs. Center the keyboard in front of your body.

Many experts suggest that when you use a correctly positioned keyboard:
- Your elbows stay near your body in an open angle allowing circulation to the lower arms and hands.
- Your arms are nearly perpendicular to the floor.
- Your wrists are nearly straight.
- You may be more comfortable if you use your arm, not just your wrist, to move the mouse. Choose a mouse that fits the size of your hand comfortably and is as flat as possible to minimize wrist strain.

For most of us who work in offices with standard furniture, its best to try and adopt as many of the above suggestions - one of the best routes of course is to get the HR department involved and take up the cause of ergonomic office furniture - goes a long way in increasing productivity of employees!

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