Ergonomics is a long word for a simple idea: that you shouldn’t get hurt on the job. It’s the discipline of designing and negotiating the workplace to make sure that workers don’t get hurt. If you’re a new worker, here are ten simple things you can do to bring ergonomics in the workplace and ensure that while you’re slaving away behind a desk, the only thing that hurts at the end of the day will be your pride.
Get Your Chair Game Right
The single most important piece of equipment in your office setup is your chair. Luckily, adjustable chairs are quickly becoming the standard. Make sure your chair has adjustable height, can tilt forward and backward, has adjustable armrests, and sits on five casters.
Organize Your Desk
Your desk should be somewhere between 25 and 34 inches off the ground, with between 19 and 30 inches underneath to allow your legs plenty of room. Make sure it’s at least 28 inches wide, to fit your keyboard, mouse, and monitor comfortably.
Ideal Keyboard And Mouse Setup
Your keyboard should be set up so that your wrists can be straight and your forearms are somewhere around a 90 degree angle. You should also have some kind of wrist rest available for periodic mini-breaks.
Store Stuff Where You Can Reach It
Files and other important items should be stored between one and four feet off the ground. Any higher or lower is begging for problems. Make sure there’s also room to maneuver as well – ideally up to four feet around the things being stored.
Dim The Lights
Panel diffusers and dimmer controls can help mitigate the effects of the terrible fluorescent lighting found in so many offices. As for monitor glare, simply changing the angle of your monitor can reduce that substantially.
Place Your Monitor In The Right…Place
Make sure your monitor is between 18 and 28 inches from your face, and the top edge of the screen is at eye level. If you can avoid it, don’t have windows directly in front of, behind, or perpendicular to the screen.
In order to lessen eyestrain, make sure you glance away from your monitor periodically. Look at something at least 20 feet or so away in order to refocus and refresh your eyes.
Switch It Up
As your work day goes on, make sure to alternate on several different levels. Switch up tasks, so you’re not doing one thing for an extended period. Switch between using your left and right hands for tasks when possible. Change between using the keyboard and the mouse. Change your posture. Basically, make sure not to do one particular thing for too long.
Clear The Air
One little-known way to incorporate ergonomics in the workplace is literally in the air. Make sure you’re at a comfortable temperature, there’s adequate circulation, and that the air quality where you are is good.
There are countless small, unobtrusive exercises you can do during the workday in order to make sure you don’t get hurt. Shrug your shoulders, roll your neck, stretch, extend your legs – all of this will help keep you healthy. At least once an hour, make sure to stand up as well.