Went to an ergonomic seminar this past Friday. The speaker was Professional Alan Hedge, director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics program at Cornell University. It was amazing all the information he was able to give in the space of two hours!
Let’s see, where can I start….
Offices are chaotic!
Think about it, how is your desk laid out? Are all of your most-used items right there where you can access them quickly and easily?
Starting with your keyboard tray, is it right in front of you, down close to your legs where you don’t have to raise your arms to the level of the desk? If you’re doing the latter, you’re putting strain on your upper arms, shoulders and back. Center the keyboard on the ‘H’ key, not on the center of the keyboard.
Where is your mouse, down with the keyboard, level with it?
With both the keyboard and mouse, try to put them both at a 15 degree negative slope (that’s sloping away from the body). That’s going to put the wrist at the optimal position to reduce strain on the wrist’s metacarpal area.
How about your monitor? Are you finding yourself leaning forward simply to see what’s on the screen? A good rule of thumb is to extend your arm, the fingers pointing to a spot right in front of your eyes, the monitor should be touching about 2 inches down right in the middle. Tilt the monitor slightly away from you. To keep the eye’s from focusing too much in one spot, make sure that every 20 minutes you look away from the monitor for 20 seconds at a spot at least 20 feet away.
Keep in mind the area around you ought to be just how your car is set up. The modern car is set up far more ergonomically than most modern offices. Think about it, your steering wheel is right there where it’s an easy reach, all the knobs and levers are easily reached, the dashboard is right below the window, easily glanced at so your attention is not distracted from the road too much. Get your office set-up the same way, so you can easily focus on the task at hand and you’re not straining much on reaching nor sitting in awkward positions.
Make the area flexible, changeable by the user, this provides an environment the worker feels they can adapt it better to make it more comfortable for themselves. They might not take advantage of this adaptability, but psychologically, they will feel far more secure and at ease knowing they can do so.
This is only a small portion of what was discussed on Friday, and I’ll go over more in more blogs, all of it was interesting and informative.