Workstation ergonomics - how does yours match up?
Proper ergonomic setup is necessary to prevent Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI), which can develop over time and can lead to long-term conditions. RSI symptoms include:
- Pain,swelling, inflammation;
- Numbness or tingling sensation;
- Decreased movement of a joint;
- Stiffness of body part; and
- Symptoms worsening with time.
Correct Monitor Set Up
You should be able to read your monitor while keeping your head in a neutral position. Generally, monitors should be
- placed directly in front of you;
- at a distance of approximately arm's length;
- angled slightly backward, so the top of the monitor is slightly further away; and
- set up so that the height of the top of the monitor should be at your eye level.
To raise your monitor you can use old phone and text books, reams of paper or a height adjustable monitor raiser.
People using dual monitors should refer to the Multiple Monitor guide.
People wear bi or multifocal glasses should set their screen at a height so their neck remains a neutral position while reading.
Keyboards should be in a position that allows the forearms to be close to horizontal and wrists straight and squarely in front of you to avoid twisting and rotation. Keyboards should be position at the front edge of the desk to prevent over reaching in the shoulders.
- Place the mouse on the same level as and immediately next to the keyboard to avoid reaching.
- The mouse should be held loosely and should fit naturally under the palm of your hand.
- Movement of the mouse should come from the whole arm and shoulder, not just the wrist.
- Avoid holding the index finger elevated between clicks.
Chairs need to be adjusted correctly as part of your ergonomic assessment.
Adjust the height of the back rest so that the outward curve of the chair fits neatly into the inward curve of your lower back.
Adjust the Back Angle so that you sit upright in your chair.
Adjust the seat height so that your knees and hips are level, thighs horizontal and feet flat on the floor or footrest.
Adjust the Seat Angle so that it is the pan of your seat is level.
You should maintain the principles above when using a laptop. If you are using your laptop for any extended period of time you should:
Maintain a neutral neck posture by placing the top of the screen at about eye level. Use a laptop raiser or place your laptop on a raised stable surface such as reams of paper or books so that the screen is at the correct height.
Attach an external keyboard and mouse to the laptop.
Carry your laptop in a wheeled case or a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a sturdy hip belt.
Task variation ensures a variety of working postures. Working on a computer requires sustained and repetitive postures, so it is important users have regular breaks.
Pause breaks where you stretch should be completed at least 3-4 times throughout the day. The frequency of breaks depends on individual needs e.g. existing condition, age, fitness etc. Where your duties are repetitive - i.e. constant typing and data entry, it is recommended that short frequent breaks be taken such as breaking for 2 - 3 minutes every 20 - 30 minutes. These breaks should involve movement to restore circulation to relieve muscle fatigue, including the eye muscles.
Links to workplace stretches can be found on the Health & Safety Ergonomic Page.
Before doing the stretches on the site, consider:
If you have a medical condition or an existing injury, you should discuss the suggested sample exercises with your treatment practitioner and follow any advice or guidelines given;
Perform stretches gently and within comfort levels; and
Hold stretches for approximately 10 - 15 seconds.
For more information on Workplace Ergonomics go to www.newcastle.edu.au/unit/human-resource-services/health-safety/workplace-safety/ergonomics.html or contact Sarah Harris extn 17720 or Diane Bunch extn 17721 for advice.