Four Ways to Improve Your Workspace

Follow these steps for better ergonomics

Do you have a job where you sit for long stretches of time at a desk in front of a computer? This could lead to serious health issues over time. Here are four tips for setting up an ergonomically sound workstation.

1. Adjust your chair height. Because most desk heights are standard, adjusting your chair height ensures that your feet are flat on the floor. To find the optimal height, sit in the chair and raise or lower the elevation so that your knees and hips are roughly level. It should allow your arms to hang comfortably at your side with your forearms parallel to the ground and your wrists in a neutral position. If necessary, provide support for your feet.

2. Keep your wrists neutral. Avoid having to bend your wrists sharply upward or downward for keystrokes. Consider getting a keyboard that is the right size for your hands, and using a wrist rest when typing. Although many keyboards have tabs for raising the back, check your wrist position before using them. Alternatively, you may find that raising the front is preferable, even if you have to prop it up.

3. Make daily adjustments. Even if your workstation is comfortable, sitting in the same position hour after hour, day after day, is not healthy. If you have an adjustable chair, which is strongly recommended, alternate positions when possible. For example, you might sit upright and then shift to one or more reclining positions, being careful not to slide down in the chair. And at times you might even want to stand.

4. Position your computer properly. The placement of the computer is a critical component of setting up a desk. Here are a few ideas:

  • Generally, the monitor should be placed between 20 and 40 inches from your face to reduce eyestrain. If you still have not upgraded to a flat screen monitor, use an attachable computer tray to create a deeper working surface.
  • Adjust the monitor so that the center is at eye level. If you wear bifocals and often tilt your head back to see the monitor, lower the monitor or raise your chair.
  • Adjust the brightness and contrast of your monitor. You should not have to strain to view it. If you require larger text to see clearly, adjust the font and zoom in and out to change font size without affecting the resolution.
  • Correctly position your keyboard and mouse. Optimally, your forearms should bend no more than 20 degrees above your sitting position. Keyboard trays can lower the keyboard and mouse while keeping them within easy reach. A keyboard tray is especially beneficial if you are short.

Finally, if you spend plenty of time on the telephone, a hands-free headset is recommended. This prevents the awkward neck positions that result from cradling the phone.

Do not dismiss the importance of these four steps. They can be instrumental in staying healthy while prolonging your career.

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