It doesn't matter whether you're an employer that's worried about insurance costs rising from workers’ comp insurance claims or a person that spends a lot of time on a computer who's worried about their own injuries and health insurance costs. Learning to sit correctly can save you from injury and insurance woes.
Proper ergonomics when sitting in office chairs and using computer equipment can save you from injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, as well as a number of other aches and hurts.
COMPUTER STATION POSTURE
- Head and neck upright, or in-line with the torso (not bent down/back).
- Head, neck, and trunk to face forward (not twisted).
- Trunk to be perpendicular to floor (may lean back into backrest but not forward).
- Shoulders and upper arms to be in-line with the torso, generally about perpendicular to the floor and relaxed (not elevated or stretched forward).
- Upper arms and elbows to be close to the body (not extended outward).
- Forearms, wrists, and hands to be straight and in-line (forearm at about 90 degrees to the upper arm).
- Wrists and hands to be straight (not bent up/down or sideways toward the little finger).
- Thighs to be parallel to the floor and the lower legs to be perpendicular to floor (thighs may be slightly elevated above knees).
- Feet rest flat on the floor or are supported by a stable footrest.
- Backrest provides support for your lower back (lumbar area).
- Seat width and depth accommodate the specific user (seat pan not too big/small).
- Seat front does not press against the back of your knees and lower legs (seat pan not too long).
- Seat has cushioning and is rounded with a "waterfall" front (no sharp edge).
- Armrests, if used, support both forearms while you perform computer tasks and they do not interfere with movement.
- Keyboard/input device platform(s) is stable and large enough to hold a keyboard and an input device.
- Input device (mouse or trackball) is located right next to your keyboard so it can be operated without reaching.
- Input device is easy to activate and the shape/size fits your hand (not too big/small).
- Wrists and hands do not rest on sharp or hard edges.
- Top of the screen is at or below eye level so you can read it without bending your head or neck down/back.
- User with bifocals/trifocals can read the screen without bending the head or neck backward.
- Monitor distance allows you to read the screen without leaning your head, neck or trunk forward/backward.
- Monitor position is directly in front of you so you don't have to twist your head or neck.
- Glare (for example, from windows, lights) is not reflected on your screen which can cause you to assume an awkward posture to clearly see information on your screen.
- Thighs have sufficient clearance space between the top of the thighs and your computer table/keyboard platform (thighs are not trapped).
- Legs and feet have sufficient clearance space under the work surface so you are able to get close enough to the keyboard/input device.
- Document holder, if provided, is stable and large enough to hold documents.
- Document holder, if provided, is placed at about the same height and distance as the monitor screen so there is little head movement, or need to re-focus, when you look from the document to the screen.
- Wrist/palm rest, if provided, is padded and free of sharp or square edges that push on your wrists.
- Wrist/palm rest, if provided, allows you to keep your forearms, wrists, and hands straight and in-line when using the keyboard/input device.
- Telephone can be used with your head upright (not bent) and your shoulders relaxed (not elevated) if you do computer tasks at the same time.
- Workstation and equipment have sufficient adjustability so you are in a safe working posture and can make occasional changes in posture while performing computer tasks.
- Computer workstation, components and accessories are maintained in serviceable condition and function properly.
- Computer tasks are organized in a way that allows you to vary tasks with other work activities, or to take micro-breaks or recovery pauses while at the computer workstation.
Even knowing all this sometimes isn't enough. If you make any large office equipment purchases, it may be worth your while to talk to the vendor and see if they will come out to demonstrate proper usage, positioning, and posture. This is crucial training to prevent injury and should be refreshed every six months to a year.
If having a professional train you is not an option, there are videos available on YouTube and otherwise to help you set up your office chair and workstation ergonomically.
For more information, visit the Occupational Safety & Health Administration website at www.osha.gov.
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