Make your Workspace at Home More Ergonomic

By Ryan Fogel,

With most people are telecommuting these days, it is important to consider how to make your workspace at home more ergonomic. While you may find it easy to respond to an email from the kitchen counter or write a few emails while lying in bed, working under these conditions for an extended period of time can cause you to experience aches and pains.

Consider reviewing your home setup to ensure it is ergonomically sound and to ensure overall body wellness in the future. Here are some tips to evolve your home office and preserve your physical health:

1. If you use a laptop, get a laptop riser and external keyboard

Although it can be convenient using laptops and notebooks, they are not great to use on an ongoing basis. Due to the fact that laptop screens and keyboards are attached to each other, this causes you to bend and/or twist your neck while looking down to view your keyboard. A laptop riser will allow you to put the laptop at a comfortable monitor height, and an external ergonomic keyboard will allow you to type comfortably with your arms in a neutral posture.

2. Sit with elbows and knees at a 90-degree angle

The optimal ergonomic sitting posture is as follows: sit with your spine straight, knees and elbows bent at 90-degree angles, and/or use a footrest to ensure your hips are level with your knees. A chair/desk combination that lets you fit this 90-degree configuration is vital. There are a variety of ergonomic chair options that can provide you with the right support.

3. Look straight ahead at your monitor

Your monitor should be positioned at a height that allows you to look straight, without having to bend your neck. This means elevating the monitor to the correct viewing height or using an adjustable height monitor stand if necessary. Additionally, avoid positioning your monitor at an angle where you have to turn your head to see it.

4. Switch it up

There are many dangers associated with sitting for long hours. Take microbreaks by alternating between sitting and standing for short periods of time. This prevents muscle fatigue by allowing you to move around. Another option is utilizing a sit/stand desk, which will allow you to continue working in a standing or sitting position throughout the day.

Making your home workspace ergonomic is a decision that will prove greatly beneficial to your overall physical health for many years to come.

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: Ergonomics Assessment, Ergonomics at Home, Ergonomics Risk Management
  Comments: None


The 10 Principles of Ergonomics

By Ryan Fogel,

Ergonomics is the science that deals with the design of systems that optimizes human well-being and boosts performance. There are two sub-fields of ergonomics, which are physical and cognitive. Here, we focus on the 10 design principles of physical ergonomics. These principles can be readily applied in the workplace, at home, or anywhere else.

 

Work in Neutral Postures

  • It is necessary to maintain the natural “s” curve posture of your back.
  • You can cause strain on your neck and back working long with a “c” curve.
  • It is important to keep proper alignment of neck, hands, and wrists.
  • Always keep elbows at the side.

Reduce Excessive Force

  • Using too much force or pressure at the joints can lead to injury. Ensure the floor is in good repair to ease the movement of items, like a heavy cart for instance.
  • Consider minimizing work that requires a lot of physical labor.

Keep everything within you reach

  • You can avoid unnecessary stretching and strain when you keep everything within reach.

Work at the right height

  • You won’t lean or strain your neck if you work at the right height.
  • Do most sitting work at elbow height but lower than elbow height for standing work.
  • You can adjust height by adding or removing extensions to chairs and tables.

Reduce Excess Motions

Minimize Fatigue and Static Load

  • When it comes to strenuous work, fatigue is common and maintaining proper posture is crucial
  • An example of static load involves having to hold things for long periods. Hold pen softly, use fixtures to eliminate holding on to items too long.
  • When you take breaks and intervals, you can reduce fatigue.
  • Use footrest to reposition the legs.

 

Minimize Pressure Points

  • Leaning forearms against the edge of a work table creates a pressure point.
  • When sitting on chairs with cushioning, a pressure point can be created behind the knee if the seat is too high or when your legs dangle. Also, a pressure point is formed between your thigh and the bottom of the table when you sit.
  • Consider using an anti-fatigue mat or insole.

Provide Clearance

·       There should be enough clearance in the work area for your arms and legs.

Move, Exercise and Stretch

·       Move and stretch whenever you can.

·       It is important that you take intervals between work to stretch and move around.

Maintain a Comfortable Environment

  • Maintain a work environment that promotes movement where you can sit and stand as needed.
  • Ensure that you have the proper lighting.
  • If possible, set the temperature to a comfortable setting.

 

These 10 principles often overlap depending on the situation. Yet, each principle stands on its own and encapsulates a whole body of ergonomic knowledge and practice. Together as a whole, they represent a method for knowing what to look for in finding smarter and better ways to work.

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: Ergonomics Risk Management
  Comments: None


4 Tips for Using A Laptop Computer

By Ryan Fogel,

The design of the laptop computer inherently violates a basic ergonomic design requirement, the keyboard and screen are integrated. In the early days of personal computing, desktop devices integrated the screen and keyboard into a single unit. This resulted in widespread complaints of musculoskeletal discomfort. By the late 1970’s a number of ergonomics design guidelines were written and all called for the separation of screen and keyboard. The reason is simple – with a fixed design, if the keyboard is in an optimal position for the user, the screen isn’t and if the screen is optimal the keyboard isn’t. Consequently, the laptop computer is excluded from current ergonomic design requirements, because none of the designs satisfy this basic need. This means that you need to pay special attention to how you use your laptop computer, because it can cause you problems.

  1. Laptop Computer User Type – the first thing to consider is: how do you use your laptop? Are you an occasional user who works on your laptop for short periods of time or a full-time user with the laptop as your main computer? Using a laptop computer is a trade-off between poor neck posture / head posture and poor hand posture / wrist posture. All users should pay some attention to how they use their laptop. But, occasional users will have fewer risks of problems than full-time users. That is why we provide tips for both part-time and full-time laptop computer users.
    • Occasional Users – because the neck position / head position is determined by the actions of large muscles, you are better off sacrificing neck posture rather than wrist posture. For occasional use:
      • Find a chair that is comfortable and in which you can sit back.
      • Position your laptop computerin your lap for the most neutral wrist posture that you can achieve.
      • Angle the laptop screen so you can see it with the least amount of neck posture deviation.
    • Full-time Users – if you use your laptop at work as your main computer you should:
      • Position the laptop computer on your desk/worksurface in front of you, so that you can see the screen without bending your neck. This may require elevating the laptop off the desk surface using a stable support surface, such as a computer monitor pedestal.
      • Use a separate keyboard and mouse. You should be able to connect a keyboard and mouse directly to the back of the laptop or to a docking station.
      • Use the keyboard on a keyboard tray to ensure a wrist neutral posture.
      • Use the mouse on an adjustable position mouse platform.
  2. Laptop Computer Dimensions – many laptops offer large screens (15″ plus) and can work as desktop replacements (giving the viewing area of a 17″ monitor). However, think about where you will use your laptop most to help you choose the best size. The larger the screen the more difficult it will be to use a laptop computer in mobile locations (e.g., airplane, car, train). There are a number of smaller notebooks and ultraportable laptops on the market. Consider issues of screen size and screen resolution. A small screen (e.g., 12.1″) will be useful in mobile settings. But, if the resolution is high (e.g., XGA – 1024 x 768), make sure that you can read the screen characters and can easily use the input device to point to areas on the screen. The smaller the laptop, the smaller the keyboard, so make sure that you can comfortably type on a keyboard that may be only 75% the size of a regular keyboard.
  3. Laptop Computer Weight – if you are a mobile professional who will be frequently transporting your laptop, think about the weight of the system. By the word ‘system’, I mean the weight of the laptop plus the required accessories (e.g., power supply, spare battery, external disk drive, zip drive, CD-RW, DVD, etc.). Many lightweight portables can become as heavy as regular laptops when the weight of all of the components is added. If your laptop and components weigh 10 lbs or more, you should consider using a carry-on bag that you can pull along. If you want a smaller bag and can comfortably carry your laptop, consider a good shoulder bag design.

Best Ergonomic Solutions for Use of a Laptop Computer

If at all possible, use a laptop docking station, because these devices let you plug in your laptop to a base station that has a monitor, keyboard and mouse already connected. The next best ergonomic solution, if a laptop docking station is either out of your budget or impractical is to have a separate keyboard and mouse at the desk. This allows you to place the laptop at the correct monitor position (to help with head posture / neck posture) and use a comfortable keyboard and mouse that you can put in the best position to prevent injuries that may result from poor wrist posture / hand posture.

Resource:
How to Ergonomically Set Up Your Laptop as a Desktop

  Filed under: Ergonomics Products, Ergonomics Risk Management
  Comments: None