Workstation Ergonomics

The importance of a well thought out Workstation

Investing in a new workstation can be an expensive outlay. First of all assess what you have already and then what your needs are. There is little point in investing in the most high specification equipment if your job role requires you to be off site most of the time.

The Desk

List all the functions that are conducted at your desk. Do you only use a computer or do you also do handwriting? Do you need space for going through documents.? Ensure that the space under the desk is not obstructed.

The Chair

Your chair should support you in a comfortable position that maintains the natural curvature of the spine. Adjust the back rest height so that the back rest bulge fits in to your lumbar arch. This lumbar support is sometimes set too low which can actually have the opposite effect.

Sit well back into the chair and pull it right into the desk. Avoid placing pressure on important structures at the back of the knee by ensuring the seat is a few centimetres short of your thigh length.

Where possible adjust your seat to tilt slightly forwards. This helps to maintain good posture. Adjust the chair height or arm rests so that your forearms are horizontal and your upper arms are vertical when you place your hands on the keyboard. If your feet are not well supported use a foot rest to ensure that your hips and knees are placed at right angles.

The Screen

The screen should be directly in front of you with the top of the screen at about eye level. It should be placed about an arm’s length away. Make sure that the characters on the screen are easy to read and flicker free. Place the screen where you can see there are no reflections.

The Keyboard

Make sure that the keyboard is placed close to you so that you do not need to reach out for it. Do not rest your wrists on the desk in a fixed or ‘anchored’ manner while typing. Instead, hover or move them while keying. Use all your fingers and type lightly keeping your fingers curved. Avoid the habit of keeping any of the fingers extended upwards (usually the little finger).

There are a variety of different keyboards available. ‘Split keyboards’ for example can place the wrists and hands in a more neutral position, taking uneven strain off certain structures such as nerves, tendons and joints.

The Mouse

Make sure that the mouse is placed close to you so that you do not need to reach out for it.
Hold it loosely and keep all fingers on the mouse. Avoid leaving any fingers in extended positions. Where possible set up your work station so the wrists can be supported on the desk when you are not using the mouse.

A standard mouse can place the wrist and hand in an awkward position. Choosing an ergonomically designed mouse, taking regular breaks and using keyboard shortcuts can counter this.

In all cases, if in doubt, seek the advice of a suitably qualified health professional to assess your requirements.