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Ergonomics at your workstation

The importance of a healthy indoor environment was discussed in our previous blog post. Although most of the things discussed previously are hard to accomplish as a staff member there are things that you can do to make your workspace a more productive and comfortable environment. One of these things is ergonomics, or workplace equipment design that is meant to reduce fatigue and increase productivity.

An academic and designer who examines workplace equipment design is Galen Cranz, an architecture professor at the University of California - Berkeley, who specializes in body conscious design.  Although she promotes ergonomics, she doesn’t believe that the limits of workplace design have been pushed far enough. She believes well designed workplace equipment takes into account the whole system, not just parts. She uses the system approach when she studies workstation equipement. 

The history of the chair dates back to Roman times and has evolved over the years. These days most people sit for the majority of the day, while they are at work, school, home or in the car. Although many people have the preconceived notion that the typical 90 degree angled chair is the best way to sit, it actually causes us more problems than good.

Most office furniture companies haven’t caught up with Cranz’s ideas of innovative workstation technology that would allow employees to adjust their positioning throughout the day. There are several solutions that can be done currently to help with workplace posture and encourage movement. Below is a list of things you can do to customize your workstation. The key is to make sure there is no tension in your wrists, elbows, neck, and knees.

1. Your Mouse

What can go wrong: The angle at which your mouse sits on your desk usually makes you tilt your wrist at an awkward angle.

Solution: There are companies that make vertical computer mice, allowing your hand and wrist positioning to be in its’ natural position.

2. Your Computer Monitor

What can go wrong: Oftentimes your computer monitor will be positioned improperly, which causes eyestrain.

Solution: The center of your screen should be 7”-10” below your sight line and an arm’s length away from your body.

Helpful tip: Looking away from your screen every 30 minutes to an object that is 20’ away, this helps reduce eyestrain.

3. Your Chair

What can go wrong: The 90 degree chair causes strain on your lower back and compresses your spine.

Solution: Make sure your knees are positioned lower than your hips by changing the chair's tilt. Also, switching up your office chair from a standard chair to a balance ball and/or variable balans chair will help reduce spinal pressure.

 

4. Your Movement

What can go wrong: Your health can suffer if you spend too much time sitting during a day.

Solution: Get up and move about. Moving around every hour for a few minutes can help reduce the tension that develops from sitting for long periods of time.

 

As you sit at your desk keep these things in mind. A healthier work environment results in higher productivity and decreased stress levels.

 

References and further information:

1. http://www.humanics-es.com/rethinkingsitting.htm#chairs

2. http://bodyconsciousdesign.com/uploads/interview_galen_cranz_portland.pdf

3. http://ohsonline.com/Articles/2012/10/01/Five-Changing-Trends-in-Managin...