Office Safety: How to Set Up an Ergonomic Workstation

It may seem counterintuitive, but sitting all day can put tremendous strain on your body. That’s a problem, because 62% of Americans use computers as an integral part of their jobs, according to the United States Department of Commerce. People in these positions require an ergonomic workstation setup to avoid the negative health effects for prolonged sitting, but far too many employees never consider making changes to their chairs and desks. Read on to see our office ergonomics guidelines and make a big impact on employee wellbeing.

Seating Considerations

Everyone who works at a desk has a sitting position that just feels right. The problem is, not all of those positions are right when it comes to health. In fact, what feels comfortable while sitting at a desk may lead to chronic pain over time.

To determine an appropriate height for your chair, you should start by sitting as far back in your chair as you can. Using the side adjustment lever, raise your chair until your feet lie flat on the floor and your knees are just below your hips.

Once you’ve found the right height, it’s time to adjust the back of the chair. Leaning too far forward or backward adds stress to the spine, which can lead to disc damage. Set up the back of your chair so that it creates a 100-110° reclined angle with the seat. While sitting in this position, relax your shoulders and raise your armrests to a comfortable height.

Mouse & Keyboard Adjustments

If you’ve ever experienced carpal tunnel syndrome, you know the importance of proper keyboard positioning while typing for extended time periods. Your keyboard should be placed directly in front of your body, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re lurching forward to type. Your shoulders should feel relaxed, and your elbows should bend at a 90° angle. Lay your hands and wrists flat on the desk in front of your body.

Some keyboards feature tilt mechanisms that allow you to adjust the angle of the board. If it feels comfortable to tilt the keys towards your body, raise the keyboard slightly. You can also use a palm support pad, but you should only rest your hands or wrists on it while you’re not typing because relying on it too much can lead to poor habits over time.

Place your mouse right next to your keyboard, so it’s easy to reach with little effort. If you’re using a laptop as your main computer, never rely on the track pad to move your curser around. Investing in a mouse will help to prevent wrist pain in the long run.

Monitor Tips

You shouldn’t strain your neck to see what you’re doing at work. To prevent aches and pains, position your monitor directly in front of your keyboard. The top of your screen should be approximately 1-2” above the height of your eyes, and you should never hunch over to see something on your monitor.

When it comes to distance between your body and the screen, make sure you are at least an arm’s length away from the display. If you need to view paper documents while using the computer, see if your workplace has an inline copy stand to prop them up between the keyboard and the monitor.

Glare can lead to eyestrain if you don’t account for the sources of bright reflection. When possible, position your monitor perpendicular to windows to avoid issues with sunlight. The screen itself can be a source of eye pain, so adjust the brightness throughout the day to keep it at a comfortable level. You can even find glasses that reduce eyestrain from computer monitors.

Final Advice

Even when you take measures to improve the ergonomics of your workstation setup, sitting still for hours is still detrimental to your body. Make it a goal to get up and stretch at least once an hour. If your eyes are hurting, look at something about 20 feet away for 30 seconds. This should ease the pain and help you focus on your work when your return your attention to the screen.

If you’re looking to improve ergonomics for your office, CLMI can help. Check out our office ergonomics training programs that encourage employees to sit with proper form while they’re working. Specialized courses, such as Ergonomics for the Mobile Worker, will help your team adapt to their unique workplace environment. The importance of computer ergonomics is huge, so start making improvements today!