Computer workstation ergonomics
Are you sitting comfortably?
A properly adjusted chair will reduce the strain that you put on your back. You should be able to alter the height, back position and tilt of your chair. Try and ensure that your knees are level with your hips.
In order to prevent back injury, you should be sitting up straight while at your desk. If your chair isn't providing enough back support, try using a rolled up towel or cushion until you find a position that's comfortable for you - then adjust the chair accordingly.
Now that you've got your chair correctly positioned, take a look at your feet. Are they flat on the floor? If not, you may want to consider getting a footrest. This will relieve any pressure on your joints and muscles. It's important that you avoid crossing your legs or sitting with one (or both) legs twisted beneath you.
Check the position of your monitor
Now that you're sitting comfortably you need to take a look at the positioning of your pc. Guidelines suggest that the monitor should be positioned approximately 12-30 inches away from your eyes.
A good guide to positioning is to place the monitor about an arm's length away. The top of the screen should be roughly at eye level. In order to achieve this position you may need to get a stand for your monitor. This doesn't need to be anything fancy - a pile of books will help to elevate the screen to the required position.
Screen reflection and glare
Ideally your pc screen should be as glare-free as possible. This may mean positioning the monitor so that overhead lighting and sunlight are not reflecting on your screen. Try positioning the monitor so that it is at right-angles to the window.
Experiment with your monitor until you find the best position. You may need to move your desk slightly or close the blinds. If glare continues to be a problem, try using an anti-glare screen. You should also experiment with the screen settings on your monitor. Adjusting the brightness or contrast could make a big difference.
Are key objects are within reach?
Position frequently used objects - such as your telephone or stapler - within reachable distance from your body. It's important to avoid repeatedly stretching or twisting to reach things. Positioning items within easy reach will help to avoid overusing your arm, shoulder and back muscles.
If you spend a lot of time on the telephone, you may want to consider exchanging your handset for a headset. Repeatedly cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder can strain the muscles in your neck.
Sitting at the keyboard
Keep your wrists in a straight position when using a keyboard - they shouldn't be bent up, down or to either side. Your elbows should be positioned vertically under your shoulders. Using a wrist rest may help you to avoid awkward bending in your wrists.
Position and use the mouse as close to you as you can. Aim to have your elbow vertically under your shoulder and right by your side. A mouse mat with a wrist pad will help to keep your wrist straight and avoid awkward bending. Try learning some keyboard short cuts to cut down on the amount of time you spend using a mouse.
Take a break
Try to alter your working day so that you don't spend all your time at your pc. If your job is mainly pc based ensure that you take regular breaks. For every hour at your keyboard, take at least five to ten minutes rest. Rest your eyes - look away from the screen and focus on something in the distance for a few seconds.
Try doing some gentle exercises to help relax the muscles and clear your mind.
- Create a safe and comfortable computer workstation (U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration)
- Computer Ergonomics for Elementary School (Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon OSHA)
- Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)