Ergonomics: Fitting the Job to You

What are ergonomics?  Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them.  Ergonomics aims to improve workspaces and environments to minimize risk of injury or harm. So as technologies change, so does the need to ensure that the tools we utilize for work, rest and play are designed for our body’s requirements.

Recent research has shown that the number one work-related problem is lower back pain, effecting people in all lines of work.  Even with a wonderfully designed workspace, without proper posture and equipment spacing, can cause neck, back, and joint pain.  Use this guide to start improving your workspace ergonomics now.

  • Chair:  When choosing a chair, find one that supports your spinal curves. Adjust your chair height so that both feet rest flat on the floor and thighs are parallel.  Arms should gently rest with shoulders relaxed.
  • Desk:  Under the desk make sure there’s clearance for your knees, feet, and thighs.  If the desk is low and cannot be adjusted, place sturdy boards or blocks under desk legs.  If too high, raise your chair.
  • Monitor:  Place monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away.  The screen should be approximately at eye level and directly behind your keyboard.  Place your monitor so the brightest light source is to the side.
  • Key Objects:  Place objects such as phone, stapler, keyboard and mouse in comfortable reach.  Keyboard and mouse should be able to be used with wrists straight, upper arms close to body and hands at the level of your elbows.
  • Telephone:  If talking on the phone frequently, place your phone on speaker and use a headset rather than cradling the phone between neck and head.

Ergonomics focuses on fitting the job to the person, rather than requiring the person to fit themselves to the job environment.  If suffering from neck, back, or joint pain see our Physical Therapist to identify risk factors to trigger pain and stiffness, and ways to correct these problems both in and out of the office.