Basics of office ergonomics for injury prevention.
Author: Joanne Browne
Ensuring an adequate working space in the office that promotes ergonomic and user-friendly engagement is nothing new – for decades now workforces have been stationed at desks operating computers for 7-8+ hours per day. As computer technologies continue to evolve and more of the workforce than ever is now working at least in part from home, ensuring you are appropriately stationed to prevent injury remains a crucial component of occupational health.
The basics of an office ergonomics are well-established. Your chair should offer adequate lumbar support and be positioned at a height that allows you to sit comfortably with your feet resting on the floor, or on a foot rest with the hips and knees roughly at 90 degree angles. Rather than being sat bolt upright, having a slight decline in the backrest means less fatigue in your trunk muscles as the day progresses. You should be able to easily access your desk, which should be positioned to allow your forearms to rest comfortably in a near parallel position, with the keyboard and mouse within easy reach. To avoid neck or eye strain, ensure the monitor(s) you use are positioned directly in front of you, approximately arms’ length away from your face, with the top of the screen roughly at eye level.
Many offices now are fitted with sit to stand desks. This can help promote regular change in position, but prolonged standing can cause fatigue and soreness as much as prolonged sitting so make sure to vary your posture regularly throughout the day.
Even with the perfect desk set-up, you may still develop discomfort throughout your day. The best thing you can do to prevent this is to take regular breaks away from your desk to stretch and move your body. Think about ways to habitually take 1-2 minute breaks throughout the day – grabbing a drink, walking to speak to a colleague rather than sending an email, or just standing and doing a quick stretch! If you struggle to remember to move you could set a timer every 30 minutes that reminds you to change your position. Find what works for you and try to stick with it!
If you develop pain or experience other concerning physical symptoms associated with work, a physiotherapist can assist you to identify what might be causing this and work with you to find management and prevention strategies.