2005-08-23

Ergonomics / Writers Wanted

I was just working a cramp out of my shoulder, and recalled an article I'd written for the ICC newsletter last December about proper office ergonomics, which also came to mind as a portion of our safety training here last week.



Ergonomics
Does your back hurt at the end of the day?
Do you get pain in your wrists and elbows from working at the computer?
Here are some signs that your work space is not ergonomically sound:
Shooting pain/tingling sensations in arms, legs or neck
Numbness and feeling lightheaded
Squirming, you just can’t get comfortable
Popping joints


The first step to working safely is looking at your work space. Your company might have a safety department that can come out and offer suggestions and guidelines to relieve the effects of some poorly designed setups.
OSHA has some suggestions on identifying potentially harmful working conditions.
http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/computerworkstation/solutions.html

Assessing your equipment setup:
Check out your chair height to make sure that your elbows are at the same level as your keyboard
You should have an adjustable chair that fits you so that your circulation isn’t being cut off from dangling or bent legs.
Most chairs don’t have adjustable lumbar support, but, they really should.
Your keyboard should be directly in front of you, not at an angle.
Your monitor should be directly in front of you, so you don’t have to bend or twist to look at it.
The monitor should also be able arm’s length away for proper viewing to minimize eye strain.
Do you have room to comfortable move and stretch your legs under your desk?


Assessing the way you work:
 

Make sure:
your wrists are straight
your arms aren’t extended
your neck isn’t bent
your back is supported
your lower legs are supported
your feet rest solidly on the floor
Accessorize for Comfort:
Wrist rest for your keyboard
Wrist rest for your mouse
Angled footrest to relieve pressure on the back of your legs
Hands-free setup for your telephone to minimize neck pain from tilting your head to hold the phone

Keep moving:
At least once an hour (preferable every ½ hour), take a break to stand up, stretch, and walk the kinks out for a couple of minutes.
If you are totally engrossed in a project, this becomes even more important, because you are focused, and your limbs are going to be under even more strain than usual.


Roll your shoulders forward and back, and push your shoulder blades together.
Try ½ pushups, by leaning against a filing cabinet, a set of 10 a couple times a day will keep your shoulders loose.
Don’t forget your eyes! Follow the 20-20-20 rule, every 20 minutes, blink 20 times, and stare at something 20 feet away to minimize eyestrain.
You might also want to talk to your eye care specialist to ensure that your glasses/contacts are appropriate for this type of work.


Join one of the discussions on repetitive motion strain on the augi forums: http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=11656
http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=11606&highlight=mouse
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