Why Ergonomics is Worth Investing In

By Ryan Fogel,

Ergonomics involves designing workplace stations with the use of human data to create an environment that is more suitable for working. To put it simply, you want a workplace designed according to the natural laws of the human body, so as to increase safety and comfort, and boost employee efficiency.

Ergonomic Assessments in the Workplace

Ergonomic assessments are done to minimize the risk of injury and maximize productivity. It is also done to support the return to work of a worker who is injured and needs to minimize workplace discomfort to recover faster from their injury and prevent aggravation. Workers who are remote also need to ensure their remote work environment is safe and ergonomically designed.

The first step to making your workplace more ergonomic is to hire an ergonomist to conduct workplace ergonomic assessment. These people have experience in assessing and identifying present and possible future problems and have the necessary skills to suggest solutions for any ergonomic issue they encounter. With the guidance of these health professions, you can decide what kind of actions to take; be it to organize a workshop to increase awareness, one-on-one assessments of employee to ensure proper ergonomic setup, or to determine the equipment or higher levels of control that an injured employee may require.

Once you have identified your ergonomic issues, it becomes easier to decide what needs to be implemented, whether that be to provide ergonomic equipment or make changes to an employee’s job duties. For example, concerning issues with high-task repetition, a simple solution is to continuously cycle employees between repetitive tasks.

Other Ergonomic Benefits

These days, ergonomic trends are moving away from trying to reduce musculoskeletal injuries to the many other business benefits ergonomic change brings. Good ergonomics has reduced worker compensation claims and increased productivity since workers are happier and healthier. It has also improved employee engagement and longevity at the workplace. People can notice when you invest in them and taking steps to improve their health and well-being, which shows you care about the working conditions of your employees.

To achieve an optimal ergonomic workstation, it is important to hire a Specialist to examine your current workplace.  At Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants, we can evaluate your current workspace, find ways to make it more ergonomic, and then provide and install the necessary equipment to do so. To learn more, contact us today!

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Ergonomics Assessment, Ergonomics Consulting, Ergonomics Training
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Ergonomic Tips If You Must Work in Bed

By Ryan Fogel,

Long hours working from a bed is not great for your posture and can cause pains and discomfort. There are many problems associated with working in bed, including practicing bad ergonomic posture. For example, many people who work in bed tend to place their bodies in awkward positions or prop themselves up with their elbow.

Working in bed is not the ideal work environment; however, if you’ve got no choice, ensure you are working as ergonomically as you can. Here are some things you can do:

Improve Posture with Pillows

Working from the bed requires supporting the back and neck when sleeping, but your sleeping pillows are not recommended for this. Since you are sitting on a bed, which is already a soft surface, you need the extra lumbar support a wedge pillow provides, or one that has extra filling that supports the lower back. An ideal support pillow should be extra-long, enough to contour from your spine to your shoulder and back. The goal is to have you sitting up fairly straight, as if you were sitting on a chair.

Light for Working, Not Just Reading

Your lighting has to be as good as you would have it at your desk or reading chair. Your task light should not cast shadows on your work material or create glare. If either one occurs, try to reposition the light. The shade may need to be higher on a night table to be able to disperse more light, in which case, it can be placed on a hard book or two to elevate it. Another option is a wall lamp.

Ambient light is also important, when working on the bed you tend to use more space than if you were reading. It is sensible to have more than just a reading lamp to illuminate your work area.

Elevate Your Workspace

Consider purchasing a lap desks, bed trays, or cushions for laptop use while in bed. They will slightly elevate the work surface, which helps to maintain a good posture and encourages longer work.

Transition from Work to Sleep

Sleep experts recommend not to work in bed at night, especially if you already suffer from insomnia. But if this habit is not one you are planning to break, then add some decompression time to help with work-sleep transitioning. For many of us, this includes reading and watching TV.

Find Your Best Time

Working in bed doesn’t have to be a nocturnal activity. Some people work in bed in the mornings and feel best at that time. Although this can make you stay there till noon, which is not healthy. Get out of the bed every 30 to 45 minutes to stretch your legs and refresh as blood circulation improves. You will find that you return better, and more relaxed.

Working on a bed cannot replace having a dedicated home office. To achieve an optimal ergonomic workstation, it is important to hire a Specialist to examine your current workplace. At Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants, we can evaluate your current workspace, find ways to make it more ergonomic, and then provide and install the necessary equipment to do so. To learn more, contact us today!

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Ergonomics Assessment, Ergonomics at Home
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Preventing Eye Strain While Working

By Ryan Fogel,

Computer use among office workers has increased tremendously over the last 10 years. This has resulted in increased eye-related problems among employees. While this kind of eye strain caused by computer usage may not be permanent, it can be over a prolonged period of time. Here are some tips to prevent eye strain while viewing your computer monitor:

Use an Appropriate Computer Screen

Use a large, clean screen placed on a flat surface. Your screen should have adjustable contrast and brightness options, as well as sharp images that are in clear focus displayed on the screen.

Improve Workstation Ergonomics

One of the most vital ergonomic factors that cause eye strain is the distance between the eye and the computer screen. Your workstation should be arranged to ensure that the computer screen is 18-30 inches from the eyes.

Reduce Glare and Reflection

A computer screen can reflect glare which contributes to eye strain. In conditions where there is glare, the eyes constantly adapt to the contrast between dark and light areas, which result in eye fatigue, migraines and headaches. Some easy ways to reduce glare in the office environment include:

  • Use curtains and blinds or tint windows to control the natural light coming through the windows.
  • Use darker partitions behind computer screens to reduce the contrast between foreground and background.
  • Reposition workstation or light source so that the light falls directly on the work surface.
  • Adjust general light intensity to suit the task that is being performed.
  • Use anti-glare screen filters.

 

Regulate Intensity of Lighting

Poor office lighting or lighting that is too bright increases the risk of eye problems. The best kind of brightness to work in is between 200-500 lux (measures the intensity of light). In spaces that have no other bright light source, the most appropriate lighting is around 300 lux. In an already bright environment, or with large contrasts in lighting, use brighter lights around 400 and 500 lux. Flickering lights from malfunctioning fluorescent bulbs should be replaced or maintained frequently.

Take Regular Breaks from Computer Use

To allow the eyes recover from strain, take regular breaks from staring at the computer screen to focus on distant objects. The 20/20/20 rule is recommended by clinical optometrists. This rule states 20 minutes break from computer use, looking at things 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds at a time.

Avoid Contact Lenses and Wear Glasses

Contact lenses have been found to increase the severity of symptoms of dry-eye syndrome – an eye condition that is common among office workers, with research showing that more than 40% of office workers experiencing dry eyes. The symptoms are found more in office workers who use contact lenses as the contact lenses cause friction if the eye is not well lubricated.

Employee Training

Employee training is important to provide adequate knowledge concerning eye strain or other eye problems. Some of these include taking regular breaks and performing eye exercises, as well as being able to make small adjustments to the work environment like adjusting the computer screen within appropriate distances to view properly.

To achieve an optimal ergonomic workstation, it is important to hire a Specialist to examine your current workplace.  At Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants, we can evaluate your current workspace, find ways to make it more ergonomic, and then provide and install the necessary equipment to do so. To learn more, contact us today!

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Ergonomics Risk Management
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Desk Stretches for Workers Who Sit All Day

By Ryan Fogel,

Desk Stretches for People Who Work All Day

 

Many people spend hours sitting in front of a computer screen for their jobs. This can cause a tremendous amount of strain on our backs and shoulders, resulting in a variety of musculoskeletal disorders. Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent this. Installing ergonomic furniture and practicing desk stretches can dramatically decrease your risk of back and shoulder pain. 

Here are a few desk stretches you can use throughout your day to keep any back or shoulder pain at bay:  

 

One Arm Hug 

Lift up one arm and stretch it across your body so that your hand is either out sticking out to your side or is hanging over your shoulder. Then, using your other arm, hold it place for 30 seconds, repeating 2-3 times with each arm. For a deeper stretch, try pushing your arm closer to your chest.  

Posterior Shoulder Stretch 

Hold both arms across your body, with each hand on the opposite shoulder. Pull your elbows close to your chest and then twist your torso from side to side. 

Office Chair Back Stretch 

Reach both hands behind the back of your chair and try to interlock your fingers. Hold yourself in this position for at least 30 seconds and repeat for 5 times.  

Calf Raises 

If you are able, get up out of your chair and, while standing, stand on your toes. Roll back down onto your heels and repeat this process 20 more times. 

Wrist Stretch 

Press your palms together in front of your chest and hold in place for 15 seconds. Then, reverse your hands so that that backs are pressed against each other, again holding for 15 seconds. Repeat this at least 5 times. 

Desk stretches can help prevent workplace injury, but they’re not the only things you can do. Installing ergonomic office furniture can do wonders for the health of you and your employees. Contact Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants today to learn more! 

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury Prevention
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3 Ways to Relieve Back Pain at Work

By Ryan Fogel,

3 Ways to Relieve Back Pain at Work

Have you ever felt that tight, sharp pain in your lower back after hours of work? You’re not alone. Back pain is an unfortunate consequence of many modern-day jobs, and it can severely harm your work performance and health. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can relieve your back pain at work.   

Get up and move around  

Humans are born to be active; we’re not built to sit for long hours of the day. We need to get up and move around, and while this may seem difficult for stationary workers, it’s not impossible. Set a reminder for yourself to get up and walk around for at least 60 seconds once every hour. Take longer walks during your lunchbreak and, if you can, try doing some of your work while standing up (for example, instead of emailing a coworker, walk over to their desk and talk to them).   

Pay attention to your posture  

Take a moment right now and check in with your body. Are you slumped down in your chair? Are your shoulders raised towards your ears? We often don’t pay attention to how we’re sitting throughout the day, causing neck and back pain later on. So, take some time to check in with yourself. Straighten your back, lower your shoulders, and raise your chin to give your body some relief.  

Set up an ergonomic workspace  

An ergonomic workspace is key to preventing and relieving back pain. Use lumbar support for your lower back and adjust your chair height so that your feet lay flat on the floor. Also, check to ensure that your monitor is slightly below eye level to prevent yourself from hunching over or raising your head.  

Here at Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants, we provide plenty of ergonomic furniture to help you live a more ergonomic lifestyle. So, contact us to have us evaluate your workspace today! 

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury Prevention
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Telecommuting

By Ryan Fogel,

Due to the recent coronavirus pandemic, more and more companies are requesting their employees work from home. It is estimated that one-half to two-thirds of the existing labor force is performing their job duties from the comfort of their own living space. However, as telecommuting becomes the new normal and telework increases in popularity, a new issue now arises: creating an ergonomic workspace at home. It is imperative to create a space that allows a worker’s body to maintain a neutral posture, especially for a work at home employee. Cumulative damage on susceptible body parts such as the back and wrists can occur when working on non-stationary equipment, including laptops, cell phones, and tablets.

An ergonomic work environment is often overlooked in telework. It is not uncommon for telecommuting employees to report soreness and pain, as they are not provided proper instruction on how to set up their space ergonomically to decrease discomfort. In fact, the importance for remote workers to have an ergonomic workstation at home is not emphasized enough. An employee who frequently works on their bed is more likely to suffer from repetitive stress injuries than an employee who has been given guidance on the importance of utilizing ergonomic equipment and having an ergonomic set-up.

To prevent work-related injuries and discomfort while working from home, it is important to maximize ergonomic safety and utilize ergonomic equipment. When telecommuting equipment such as a laptop riser, an external keyboard, and an external mouse is recommended. An ergonomic office chair is also recommended for use at home to maintain a neutral seated posture and prevent damage to an employee’s upper body.
While it is impossible to completely prevent injuries from happening, it is possible to lessen susceptibility with the proper guidance and the correct ergonomic equipment. If you are experiencing work-related pain while telecommuting, ARC can provide aid and recommend potential solutions. An ergonomic evaluation can be performed via web chat to inspect your home workspace and determine the equipment and adjustments necessary to allow you to work safely and comfortably at home.

To schedule an evaluation or for any additional questions, please contact ARC at 323-930-6599 or info@ergoevaluaiton.com

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury, Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Ergonomics Products
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Ergonomic Computer Workstation Setup

By Ryan Fogel,

Prolonged and repetitive work at your computer workstation, poor posture, lack of proper equipment and incorrect ergonomic information are all contributing factors to an improper computer setup which can lead to computer-related injuries. Computer-related injuries cover a wide variety of injuries and health problems caused by or exacerbated by computer usage. Many computer-related injuries can prevented by simply setting up an ergonomic computer workstation.

In setting up your ergonomic computer workstation, the goal is to set it up so you will be able to reach your entire work area (including your phone, computer keyboard, computer mouse, frequently used office supplies, etc.) without having to strain or twist your body. Today, numerous Universities like Cornell, Stanford, UC Davis, University of Virginia, UCLA and others have done intense studies highlighting the benefit of ergonomic computer workstations and the dangers to workers’ health arising by not following certain guidelines.

General Guidelines on Setting up an Ergonomic Computer Workstation

The following are general guidelines based on this research on how to set up an ergonomic computer workstation at the office or at home:

  1. The chair is key to an ergonomic computer workstation because sitting, in an office chair or in general, is a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs, and in particular, can add large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs. That is why it is important to use a good chair with a dynamic chair back that supports your lumbar region and adjust the height so your feet are flat on the floor. This keeps the knees and torso at roughly the same height. To find this height, stand by the chair and raise or lower the seat pan to just below your elbows bent between 90 and 110 degrees to promote good low back health.
  2. Adjust the chair armrests so that your shoulders are relaxed and your elbow bends at around a 90 degree angle. Use of an armrest on your office chair is important to take some of the strain off your upper spine and shoulders, and it should make you less likely to slouch forward in your chair. However, if your armrests are in the way, remove them temporarily.
  3. Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a stable footrest to help reduce strain on back and neck muscles.
  4. The top of monitor casing should be 2-3″ (5-8 cm) above eye level and centered directly in front of your face (preferably no more than 35 degrees to either side). If you wear bifocals, lower the monitor to a comfortable reading level. This helps reduce the risk of eye strain and awkward positions.
  5. To determine the proper distance for your monitor, sit back and extend your arm. The tips of your middle finger should land on your screen – between 20 and 40 inches (50 and 100 centimeters) from your face. Laptop users may want to consider height adjustable laptop stand, which can accommodate a variety of workers and work postures.
  6. Make sure there is no glare on screen. If necessary, place screen at right angles to windows, adjust curtains or blinds or use an optical glass anti-glare filter. Don’t forget to adjust the vertical screen angle and screen controls to minimize glare from overhead lights.
  7. Use an inline copy stand to position source documents directly in front of you, between the monitor and the keyboard. If there is insufficient space, place source documents on a document holder positioned adjacent to the monitor.
  8. When using a keyboard/mouse/input device, your wrists should flat and straight in relation to forearms. You can also alternate left and right-sided mouse usage to reduce the effects of repetitive use.
  9. Position your keyboard about 1 to 2 inches above your thighs and in a place where your arms and elbows are relaxed and close to body. This way, you are not extending your arms too far forward or bending your elbows too far back to type. To reach the keyboard, your forearms should bend no more than 20 degrees above horizontal (if sitting) or 45 degrees below (if standing).
  10. Center the keyboard in front of you, so you are not reaching to one side or another to type. And, position the mouse near the keyboard, so it is easy to transition from typing to mousing. Ideally, your keyboard and mouse should be shoulder-distance apart and as level as possible.
  11. Use a negative tilt keyboard tray with an upper mouse platform or downward tiltable platform adjacent to keyboard, so that your arms and hand follow the downward slope of your thighs.
  12. Use a stable work surface and stable (no bounce) keyboard tray.
  13. Place your telephone within easy reach. Telephone stands or arms can help. Use a headset or speaker phone to eliminate the awkward posture of cradling the handset.

Setting an Ergonomic Computer Workstation Alone is Not Enough to Prevent Injuries

Setting up an ergonomic computer workstation is not enough to assure the reduction of computer related injuries. You also need to take frequent short breaks (microbreaks) at least once every hour to give your eyes and muscles a break. This helps prevent eye strain and muscle fatigue. Take time to stand up, stretch and move around. Get up and get a glass of water, get some office supplies you need from the cabinet or make a phone call. Try to stand as much as possible when on the phone to help stretch out your muscles and vary your posture. Frequent microbreaks are as important to your health as any other part of an ergonomic computer workstation because they keep you awake, productive and healthy and keep you from developing Deep Vein Thrombosis and other conditions arising from not varying your posture often enough.

This OSHA Ergonomic Solutions checklist can help you create an ergonomic computer workstation. If you have questions or need further assistance in setting up your ergonomic computer workstation, call Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants at (323) 930-6599

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  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Ergonomics Consulting
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Avoiding a Mouse-related Musculoskeletal Injury

By Ryan Fogel,

Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) is a kind of catch all phrase for many conditions, including:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tenosynovitis / DeQuervain’s Syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Chronic Sprain / Strain

Repetitive Stress Injuries occur from repetitive movements involving a specific set of muscles and joints. Mechanical Onset RSI (MORSI), also known as mouse arm disease (MAD), is a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury that affects millions of people around the world and costs employers and insurers billions of dollars. As we spend increasing amounts of time at our computer workstations, we need to be aware of how the design and arrangement of our equipment can impact our chances of acquiring a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.

How Do I Avoid a Mouse-Related Musculoskeletal Injury?

The feature photo above is an excellent example of how NOT to use your mouse. The following tips should help you avoid a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury. These same posture principles apply to other input devices (e.g., trackball, touchpad, pen, digitizing puck etc.). Postural variation is a key factor for good ergonomics. Try to regularly vary your posture when you work with a mouse, and in this way you will help to minimize the risk of ergonomic problems. Remember, the best ergonomic mice are designed to allow you to vary your posture while working with the mouse.

  1. Mouse GripHold the mouse gently when moving it over a mousing surface. Cup your hand over the mouse, almost floating, without allowing the mouse to support the weight of your arm. Gripping the mouse tightly will strain the muscles in your arm and hand, which could lead to a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury. Frequent breaks should also be taken and arms stretched to boost circulation and re-oxygenate the hand and finger muscles.
  2. Mouse from the Elbow – The human wrist was not designed for a computer mouse. Operating a mouse is awkward and becomes uncomfortable, because the wrist is turned up to 90 degrees from its most comfortable natural resting position. Any bending of the wrist, either to the side or up and down, can lead to tendon damage or other mouse-related musculoskeletal injury. To help avoid a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury, make controlled mouse movements with the entire lower arm, using your elbow as the pivot point and keep your wrist straight and neutral.
  3. Optimal Mouse Position – The most up-to-date studies show that a slightly reclined sitting posture with the hips flexed at 100 to 115 degrees is ideal if you have to sit at a desk. So, sit back in your chair, relax your arms then lift your mousing hand up, pivoting at the elbow, until your hand is just above elbow level. Your mouse should be positioned somewhere around this point. Don’t use a mouse by stretching to the desk or out to the side of a keyboard. This stresses your back by reducing the angle of your hips and increases your chance of getting a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.
  4. Protect Your Wrist – Your wrists should never be in direct contact with any surface, including wrist rests and mouse pads. Instead, use the base of your palms to support the weight of your hands and arms in between mousing and typing to keep pressure off the sensitive carpal tunnel area in the wrist. This will help reduce the risk of a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.
  5. Avoid Restricting Circulation – Blood circulation is responsible for the action that moves nutrients, gases and wastes to and from cells, and helps stabilize body temperature and pH to maintain harmony. When blood vessels constrict, blood does not flow properly. Many people have exposed blood vessels near the skin at the wrist, where the pulse is often taken. Any pressure in this region will disrupt circulation into the hand and this will cause constriction in those blood vessels, which can cause hands and fingertips in the mouse hand to become cold. This can lead to a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis, Raynaud’s, DeQuervain’s, or Tendonitis.
  6. Don’t Use a Wrist Rest – Don’t use wrist rests or splints while typing, experts warn. Research has shown that using a wrist rest doubles the pressure inside the carpal tunnel. According to Professor Alan Hedge, Cornel University, the floor of the tunnel is a more flexible ligament that transmits external pressure changes directly into the carpal tunnel. Are you already suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)? One way to find out is by performing a test called “Tinel’s sign”, which simply involves tapping on the palmar surface of the wrist, which is enough to cause tingling and numbness in someone developing CTS.
  7. Avoid Restricting Arm Movement – With a softly padded wrist rest, especially one that is rounded, or a soft chair arm rest the forearm becomes “locked” into position. Mouse movements should be made using the elbow as the pivot point, not the wrist. Too much wrist movement increases intracarpal pressure, leading to a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.
  8. Mouse Shape – Choose a mouse design that fits your hand, but is as flat as possible to reduce wrist extension. Don’t use a curved mouse. Use a larger, symmetrically shaped mouse, such as the Whale mouse or the Perfit mouse, which encourage arm rather than wrist movements or that encourage postural variety and one or two-handed use. Pen-based mice designs also allow a more comfortable grip. Some types of mouse palm support can be attached to the mouse, such as the Mouse Bean.
  9. Load sharing – If you want to load share between your right and left hands, using the mouse for some of the time with each hand, you need to choose a mouse platform that can easily be configured to the left and/or right and a symmetrical shaped mouse that can be used by either hand.

Other Input Devices

Whether you choose a different mouse design, trackball, joystick, pen, touchpad, multitouch pad, or some other input device, make sure that you position it comfortably and that your wrist stays in a neutral position when using the device to avoid a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury.

How to Position Your Mouse in Your Workspace

Right-handed and left-handed mouse users should position a flat mouse platform, 1-2″ above the keyboard and over the numeric keypad – you can easily move it out of the way if you need to access these keys. With a downward sloping mouse platform, position this close to the side of the keyboard so that you can use the mouse in a neutral wrist position. However, if you are left-handed and have a right-handed keyboard, with the numeric keypad on the right, your best bet would be to use an angle-adjustable mouse platform placed immediately to the left side of the keyboard, and position it so that your left wrist is neutral. Mouse platforms are commercially available. If you require assistance choosing a mouse platform, please call Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants.

Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants not only provides ergonomic evaluations and ergonomic consulting, we also can help you get set up with the ergonomic equipment you need to prevent costly injuries in the workplace. See our Ergonomic Equipment page for more information on how we can help you make appropriate ergonomic selections for your workplace. We have relationships with many manufacturers and will recommend the best options regarding ergonomic equipment on the market.

Call 323.930.6599 or
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  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury, Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Workplace Injury Reduction
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10 Steps to Improve Ergonomic Working Arrangement

By Ryan Fogel,

Creating a good ergonomic working arrangement is important to protecting your health. The following 10 steps are a brief summary of those things that most Ergonomists agree are important. If you follow the 10 steps they should help you to improve your working arrangement.

How will the computer be used?
  • Who will be using the computer? – If the computer will only be used by one person then the arrangement can be optimized for that person’s size and shape, and features such as an adjustable height chair may be unnecessary. If it’s going to be used by several people, you will need to create an arrangement that most closely satisfies the needs of the extremes, that is the smallest and tallest, thinnest and broadest persons, as well as those in between these extremes.
  • How long will people be using the computer? If it’s a few minutes a day then ergonomic issues may not be a high priority. If it’s more than 1 hour per day it is advisable that you create an ergonomic arrangement. If it’s more than 4 hours then you should immediately implement an ergonomic arrangement.
What kind of computer will be used?
  • Desktops – most ergonomic guidelines for computer workstation arrangements assume that you will be using a desktop system where the computer screen is separate from the keyboard.
  • Laptop computers are growing in popularity and are great for short periods of computer work. Guidelines for laptop use are more difficult because laptop design inherently is problematic – when the screen is at a comfortable height and distance the keyboard isn’t and vice versa. For sustained use you should consider purchasing either:
  • an external monitor
  • an external keyboard
  • laptop riser
What furniture will you use?
Make sure that the computer (monitor, CPU system unit, keyboard, mouse) are placed on a stable working surface (nothing that wobbles) with adequate room for proper arrangement. If this work surface is going to be used for writing on paper as well as computer use a flat surface that is between 28″-30″ above the floor (suitable for most adults). You should consider attaching a keyboard/mouse tray system to your work surface. Choose a system that is height adjustable, that allows you to tilt the keyboard down away from you slightly for better wrist posture (negative tilt) and that allows you to use the mouse with your upper arms relaxed and as close to the body as possible and with your wrist in a comfortable and neutral position.
What chair will be used?
Choose a comfortable chair for the user to sit in. If only one person is using this the chair can even be at a fixed height providing that it is comfortable to sit on and has a good backrest that provides lumbar support. If more than one person will be using the computer, consider buying and a chair with several ergonomic features. Studies show that the best seated posture is a reclined posture of 100-110 degrees NOT the upright 90 degree posture that is often portrayed. In the recommended posture, the chair starts to work for the body and there are significant decreases in postural muscle activity and in intervertebral disc pressure in the lumbar spine. Erect sitting is NOT relaxed, sustainable sitting, reclined sitting is.

Chair armrests – Having armrests on a chair can be helpful to aid getting into and getting out of the chair. Also, the armrests can be useful for the occasional resting of the arms (e.g., when on the phone, sitting back relaxing). However, it is not a good idea to permanently wrest the forearms on armrests while you are typing or mousing because this can compress the flexor muscles and some armrest can also compress the ulnar never at the elbow. Ideally, it should be easy to get the armrests out of the way when you need to have free access to the keyboard and mouse. These days most office chairs have armrests and many of them have adjustable height armrests, so look for a chair that is a comfortable fit to you and that has broader, flatter, padded armrests that you can easily move out of the way if needed is the best approach. If you are able to occasionally rest your hands on the keyboard on a palm rest and if you have a comfortable chair that does not have any armrests then this is also quite acceptable.

What kind of work will the computer be used for?
Try to anticipate what type of software will be used most often.

  • Word processing – arranging the best keyboard/mouse position is high priority.
  • Surfing the net, graphic design – arranging the best mouse position is high priority.
  • Data entry– arranging the best numeric keypad/keyboard is a high priority.
  • Games – arranging the best keyboard/mouse/game pad is a high priority.
What can you see?
Make sure that any paper documents that you are reading are placed as close to the computer monitor as possible and that these are at a similar angleuse a document holder where possible

The computer monitor should be placed:

  • Directly in front of you and facing you, not angled to the left or right. This helps to eliminate too much neck twisting. Also, whatever the user is working with, encourage him/her to use the screen scroll bars to ensure that what is being viewed most is in the center of the monitor rather than at the top or bottom of the screen.
  • Center the monitor on the user so that the body and/or neck isn’t twisted when looking at the screen. However, if you are working with a large monitor and spend most of your time working with software like MSWord, which defaults to creating left aligned new pages, and you don’t want to have to drag these to more central locations, try aligning yourself to a point about 1/3rd of the distance across the monitor from the left side.
  • Put the monitor at a comfortable height that doesn’t make the user tilt their head up to see it or bend their neck down to see it. When you are seated comfortably, a user’s eyes should be in line with a point on the screen about 2-3″ below the top of the monitor casing (not the screen). Sit back in your chair at an angle of around 100-110 degrees (i.e., slight recline) and hold your right arm out horizontally, your middle finger should almost touch the center of the screen. From that starting position you can then make minor changes to screen height and angle to suit. Research shows the center of the monitor should be about 17-18 degrees below horizontal for optimal viewing, and this is where it will be if you follow the simple arm extension/finger pointing tip. You actually see more visual field below the horizon than above this (look down a corridor and you’ll see more of the floor than the ceiling), so at this position the user should comfortably be able to see more of the screen. If the monitor is too low, you will crane their neck forwards, if it’s too high you’ll tilt their head backwards and end up with neck/shoulder pain.
  • Bifocals and progressive lens – even if you wear bifocals or progressive lens, if you sit back in your chair in a reclined posture (with you back at around 110 degrees) that is recommended for good low back health, rather than sitting erect at 90 degrees, and if you slightly tilt the monitor backwards and place this at a comfortable height you should be able to see the screen without tilting your head back or craning your neck forwards. Postural problems with bifocals can occur if you sit erect or even hunched forwards. The problem with low monitors is that they cause neck flexion and suffer more from glare. Recent studies have shown that the best position for a computer monitor is for the center of the screen to be at around 17.5 degrees below eye level. Try to align your eyes with the top of the viewing area of the screen, and this should put the center about right geometrically.
  • Biewing distance – the monitor should be at a comfortable horizontal distance for viewing, which usually is around an arms length (sit back in your chair and raise your arm and your fingers should touch the screen). At this distance you should be able to see the viewing area of the monitor without making head movements. If text looks too small then either use a larger font or magnify the screen image in the software rather than sitting closer to the monitor.
  • Screen quality – use a good quality computer screen. Make sure that the text characters on your screen look sharp, and that they are a comfortable size (you can change the screen resolution to find a comfortable and clear character size). If you can see the screen flickering out of the corner of your eye you should try increasing the refresh rate of your monitor (with a PC you can change monitor resolution and refresh rates using the Monitor control panel in your Settings folder, with a Mac you can use the Monitor control panel). You can also consider using a good quality glass anti-glare filter or an LCD display (like a laptop screen).
  • Eye checkup – there are natural changes in vision that occur in most people during their early 40′s. It’s a good idea to periodically have your eyes checked by a qualified professional.
  • If any screen adjustments feel uncomfortable then change them until the arrangement feels more comfortable or seek further professional help.
  • Use a document holder that can be comfortably seen:
    • Use an in-line document holder that sits between the keyboard/keyboard tray and screen and is aligned with your body midline so that all you have to do is look down to see the documents and raise your eyes to see the screen.
    • Use a screen-mounted document holder and position this to the side of your screen that is your dominant eye
    • Use a freestanding document holder and position this next to the side of the screen and slightly angle it so that it follows a curve from the side of the screen.
Posture, posture posture!
Good posture is the basis of good workstation ergonomics. Good posture is the best way to avoid a computer-related injury. To ensure good user posture:

  • Watch the user’s posture!
    • Make sure that the user can reach the keyboard keys with their wrists as flat as possible (not bent up or down) and straight (not bent left or right).
    • Make sure that the user’s elbow angle (the angle between the inner surface of the upper arm and the forearm) is at or greater than 90 degrees to avoid nerve compression at the elbow.
    • Make sure that the upper arm and elbow are as close to the body and as relaxed as possible for mouse use – avoid overreaching. Also make sure that the wrist is as straight as possible when the mouse is being used.
    • Make sure the user sits back in the chair and has good back support. Also check that the feet can be placed flat on the floor or on a footrest.
    • Make sure the head and neck are as straight as possible .
    • Make sure the posture feels relaxed for the user.
Keep it close!
  • Make sure that those things the user uses most frequently are placed closest to the user so that they can be conveniently and comfortably reached.
  • Make sure that the user is centered on the alphanumeric keyboard. Most modern keyboards are asymmetrical in design (the alphanumeric keyboard is to the left and a numeric keypad to the right). If the outer edges of the keyboard are used as landmarks for centering the keyboard and monitor, the users hands will be deviated because the alphanumeric keys will be to the left of the user’s midline. Move the keyboard so that the center of the alphanumeric keys (the B key, is centered on the mid-line of the user).
  • make sure that the phone is also close to you if you frequently use it.

A good workstation ergonomic arrangement will allow any computer user to work in a neutral, relaxed, ideal typing posture that will minimize the risk of developing any injury. An ideal keyboard arrangement is to place this on a height adjustable negative-tilt tray. An ideal mouse arrangement is for this to be on a flat surface that’s 1-2″ above the keyboard and moveable over the numeric keypad. If you want a surface at the level of the keyboard base then make sure that this can also be angled downwards slightly to help to keep your hands in wrist neutral while you are mousing, and keep your elbow is as close to the body as possible while you work.

Where will the computer be used?
Think about the following environmental conditions where the computer will be used:

  • Lighting – make sure that the lighting isn’t too bright. You shouldn’t see any bright light glare on the computer screen. If you do, move the screen, lower the light level, use a good quality, glass anti-glare screen. Also make sure that the computer monitor screen isn’t backed to a bright window or facing a bright window so that there’s the screen looks washed out (use a shade or drapes to control window brightness).
  • Ventilation – make sure that you use your computer somewhere that has adequate fresh-air ventilation and that has adequate heating or cooling so that you feel comfortable when you’re working.
  • Noise – noise can cause stress and that tenses your muscles which can increase injury risks. Try to choose a quiet place for your workstation, and use low volume music, preferably light classical, to mask the hum of any fans or other sound sources.
Take a break!
All Ergonomists agree that it’s a good idea to take frequent, brief rest breaks: Practice the following:

  • Eye breaks – looking at a computer screen for a while causes some changes in how the eyes work, causes you to blink less often, and exposes more of the eye surface to the air. Every 15 minutes you should briefly look away from the screen for a minute or two to a more distant scene, preferably something more that 20 feet away. This lets the muscles inside the eye relax. Also, blink your eyes rapidly for a few seconds. This refreshes the tear film and clears dust from the eye surface.
  • Micro-breaks – most typing is done in bursts rather than continuously. Between these bursts of activity you should rest your hands in a relaxed, flat, straight posture. During a micro-break (< 2minutes) you can briefly stretch, stand up, move around, or do a different work task e.g. make a phone call). A micro-break isn’t necessarily a break from work, but it’s a break from the use of a particular set of muscles that’s doing most of the work (e.g., the finger flexors if you’re doing a lot of typing).
  • Rest breaks – every 30 to 60 minutes you should take a brief rest break. During this break stand up, move around and do something else. Go and get a drink of water, soda, tea, coffee or whatever. This allows you to rest and exercise different muscles and you’ll feel less tired.
  • Exercise breaks – there are many stretching and gentle exercises that you can do to help relieve muscle fatigue. You should do these every 1-2 hours.
  • Ergonomic software – working at a computer can be hypnotic, and often you don’t realize how long you’ve been working and how much you’ve been typing and mousing. You can get excellent ergonomic software that you can install on your computer. The best software will run in the background and it will monitor how much you’ve been using the computer. It will prompt you to take a rest break at appropriate intervals, and it will suggest simple exercises.
For More Information

Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants not only provides ergonomic evaluations and ergonomic consulting, we also can help you get set up with the ergonomic equipment you need to prevent costly injuries in the workplace. See our Ergonomic Equipment page for more information on how we can help you make appropriate ergonomic selections for your workplace. We have relationships with many manufacturers and will recommend the best options regarding ergonomic equipment on the market.

Call 323.930.6599 or
Contact us online

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Ergonomics Assessment, Ergonomics Consulting
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Industrial Injuries

By Ryan Fogel,

An industrial injury is a repetitive or specific work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) or an injury where pain interferes with normal work activities or daily living activities. Industrial injuries can occur suddenly by means of a workplace accident or over time as a result of many factors, including:

Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) can occur when a worker performs a task that uses the same large or small muscles over and over, with little chance for rest or recovery;

Risk factors that increase the chance of RSIs include:

  • Lack of variety in job tasks;
  • The worker not being accustomed to the task, and
  • New workers who have not be sufficiently instructed on how to safely perform the task.

Force/Gripping injuries can occur when:

  • Workers grasp, tools or object that are too large, odd-shaped, vibrating or an awkward shape.
  • When the worker is wearing bulky gloves or the worker’s hands are cold.
  • When workers use a pinch grip to grasp small objects.

Hand and wrist tendons and muscles tire much quicker when workers use a pinch grip rather than a power grip. And much more pressure is exerted on soft tissue, such as muscle, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Over time, these can cause debilitating industrial injuries.

Awkward Posture/Kneeling injuries can occur when any joint of a worker’s body bends or twists excessively, outside a comfortable range of motion. This puts stress on muscles, tendons and joints.

Static Posture injuries can occur when an awkward posture is held for a long time, causing muscle fatigue, because:

  • Fatigued muscles ache because of a lack of circulation from holding a static posture for too long.
  • Fatigued muscles can lead to increased discomfort, spasms and even injury.

Local Contact Stress occurs when:

  • A hard or sharp object comes in contact with the skin.
  • A worker strikes objects sharply with the hand, foot, knee or other body part.

Local contact stress can irritate soft tissue and interfere with circulation and nerve function, especially when:

  • The hard object comes into contact with an area with little protective tissue, such as the wrist, palm, or fingers.
  • When the pressure is applied repeatedly or over a long period of time.

Vibration exposure can occur:

  • While using power tools in multiple occupations and settings, (e.g., automotive repair shops, construction work, engineering, dental care, etc.)
  • When hands are exposed to very high frequency vibrations, such as dental technicians and dentists.
  • The whole body being exposed to vibrations such as shocks, jolts, lateral sway and vertical bouncing, while driving equipment.

Vibration from power tools can place stress on the tissues of the fingers, hand and arms, which can cause such conditions as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), arthritis or tendonitis. It can also cause changes in muscle fibers, which can result in impaired grip force, reduced mobility and pain in the hand and arm. Whole body vibration (WBV) from driving puts stress on the feet, buttocks and spinal tissues, which can cause cumulative trauma, repetitive stress injuries, chronic wear and even sudden shock syndrome injuries.

What is an Ergonomic Injury?

Industrial injuries caused by ergonomic hazards are also known as ergonomic injuries. Ergonomic injuries are very commonplace now because industries require increasingly higher rates of production, which can result in such ergonomic hazards as:

  • Workers frequently lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling loads unassisted by fellow workers or devices;
  • Increasing specialization that require workers to perform repetitious functions or movements over extended periods of time, day after day;
  • Workers being required to work more than 8 hours a day, which leads to fatigue;
  • Workers being required to work quicker on fast assembly lines; and
  • Workers having to handle tools or objects requiring a pinch grip or excessive force.

Preventing Ergonomic Risks that Lead to Industrial Injuries

The likelihood of developing industrial injuries is dependent on the frequency and duration of exposure to ergonomic risk factors. The following are a few common ergonomic injuries and simple remedies that can reduce or eliminate them:

Injury Simple Remedy
Neck Pain Electronic telephone head set, upright document holder.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) Special keyboard, voice activation software.
Chronic Pain Implement rest or stretch breaks, alternative task assignment.
Awkward Position/Kneeling Changing workstation layouts to minimize twisting, raising or lowering work surfaces and storage spaces to minimize reaching, bending and kneeling, providing proper seating for low level or kneeling work and providing knee pads for workers that need to kneel.
Repetitive Stress Injuries Eliminating excessive force and awkward positions, providing safe and effective job procedures, allowing workers to rotate between workstations and tasks (job rotation).
Putting remedies in place alone will not reduce the risk of industrial injuries. Workers will also require proper training on how to perform their job duties safely and ergonomically.

Ergonomic Consulting Services in Los Angeles

An employer needs to take into consideration all aspects and areas of the workplace in order to develop a practical approach of proactive planning and assessment to reduce and eliminate industrial injuries. Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants can help. We employ a four-phase process of pairing low-cost, high-impact solutions to real problems.

To help reduce industrial injuries, Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants provides such ergonomic consulting services as:

Call Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants at 323.930.6599 or contact us online for more information on how our services can greatly reduce industrial injuries and increase workplace morale.

Resource: What is an industrial injury?

  Filed under: Ergonomic Injury, Ergonomic Injury Prevention, Industrial Injuries
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