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Office Ergonomics: Safety Issues Caused by Technology

Current research indicates that static posture may be a more significant risk factor that repetitive motion! Our muscles were designed to work actively, pumping blood through them to bring in oxygen and removing the waste products formed when calories are burned. When muscles are tightened they restrict blood flow.

Take a short test yourself. Find an object that weighs a few pounds. Repeatedly lift and lower that object as if you were lifting weights. Most people have no problem doing this activity for several minutes. Now take that same weight and hold it up at arms length. Notice how rapidly muscle fatigue occurs! Far less actual work was done, but it was static muscle use work that our bodies are not designed to perform!

Our forearm supports, (MorencyRests) were initially developed to help get injured individuals back to work. They dramatically reduce the muscle activity in the neck and shoulders, increasing blood flow and dramatically reducing fatigue,discomfort, and pain. (Click here to view our electromyogram of muscle activity)

Improved posture, neutral wrist positioning, and supported upper extremities dramatically improve comfort while reducing risk of injury. We manufacture products for varied applications and the size of the individual, making us unique in today's ergonomic market. R&D Ergonomics was established in 1991 and sells only quality products using materials from the United States.

The transition from paper driven to computer driven tasks continues to dramatically change workstation requirements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks worker injury data. The increase in Cumulative Trauma Illnesses has led to pain, suffering and costs that have spiraled out of control. (Click here to view the BLS Data)

Workstation Setup Guidelines:

Working Posture Recommendation Summary

  • Monitor at or below eye level

  • Wrists straight

  • Forearms supported

  • Back supported

  • Forearms parallel to the floor

  • Thighs parallel to the floor

  • Feet on the floor or a foot rest

 

Work Surface Height

The proper height for a computer work surface is about 3 or 4 inches lower than the average writing desk. If your work surface is not height adjustable you might need to raise your chair and use a foot rest for proper support.

  • Your forearms should be parallel to the floor. Your elbow should make an angle of between 90 and 110 degrees.

  • Your forearms should be supported a minimum of 6 inches.

  • Your wrists should be straight and neutral. Wrists bent in any direction (up, down, left, or right) may lead to discomfort and eventually injury.

Your Chair

Your chair is one of the most important aspects of a good ergonomic work station. Adjust your chair to properly support your body.

  • Adjust chair height so that your forearms are parallel to the floor. Both feet should be flat on the floor or a foot rest and your thighs parallel to the floor.

  • Adjust the back support so that the seat back’s curve is in curve of the lower back. Use a towel or lumbar pad if your chair does not provide adequate support.

  • Adjust the backrest for seat pan clearance. You should be able to place 2 or 3 fingers between the back of your knees and the front edge of the seat.

 

Monitor Height and Position

The position of your head and neck is very important to comfortable computer use because your blood must flow through the neck and shoulders to get to your arm muscles that are doing the work.

  • Your monitor should be directly in front of you.

  • Monitor height should be adjusted so that the top row of characters on the screen is at or slightly below eye height. If you wear bifocals or trifocals, a lower position is required depending on your lenses.

  • The monitor should be 18 to 28 inches from your eyes. (About at arm's length away).

Stretching and Breaks

Your body was designed to perform a variety of tasks while actively using your muscles. Sustained muscle activity (like holding your arms up to type) robs the muscles of life giving blood flow. It is very important to actively stretch during breaks to flush out toxins that build up in the muscles that were used for sustained posture.

The following body areas typically need stretching or relaxation exercises after computer use.

  • Neck

  • Hands and Wrists

  • Upper Back and Shoulders

  • Lower Back

  • Eyes

  • Legs

Talk to your company nurse or a physical or occupational therapist for the proper stretching exercises for you.

 

Change Positions

The positions outlined here are nominal starting points! Adjust chair height, back support, and seat pan tilt slightly throughout the workday. Slight position changes will vary the muscles that are required to hold static posture. Your comfort will be improved and the onset of fatigue delayed.

Make sure that you don't look and feel like this!

For more information, contact:
R&D Ergonomics Inc., 6 Harvey Brook Drive, Freeport, ME 04032
TEL: (207) 865-6445  FAX (636)773-0951 Email: RDErgonomics@comcast.net