Ergonomics is the study of designing or arranging work spaces, equipment and devices, to fit the people using them. Proper ergonomic design is an important factor in preventing repetitive strain or overuse injuries.
Some important points to consider when planning your work environment:
- It is important to adjust your seat height so that you can place your feet flat on the floor with your knees level with or slightly lower than your hips
- It is equally important to adjust your backrest to ensure your upper and lower back are well supported. If you do not have this facility in your chair a lumbar support roll placed behind the small of your back may be useful
- The seat length should be short enough so that the front edge of the seat isn’t pushing into your legs
- The chair should be well padded
- The keyboard should be directly in front of you and close to your body. It should be at a height where your shoulders are relaxed and your wrists and hands are in a neutral position
- The screen should also be centred, with the top of the screen 5 – 8cms above eye level
- Documents should be directly in front of you between the keyboard and screen, or adjacent to the screen in a document holder
Don’t forget to plan for things like adequate lighting, space and temperature control.
The importance of regular breaks
Even if you are working at the most well designed work station, regular breaks are essential! Every 30 minutes, take 1 -2 minutes to stand up, walk around and stretch. Try to vary your tasks if possible. Always be aware of maintaining correct posture and don’t forget to rest and refocus your eyes periodically to avoid eye strain.