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Ergonomics in the Workplace: 5 Tips for Healthy, Productive Employees

Updated on July 6, 2012

From the time we are young, we are taught the importance of good posture: “Sit up straight, don’t slouch, pull your shoulders back.” Those phrases have been forever engrained in our minds, but for some reason we completely forget about them as we grow older. Despite what we’ve been told by our parents, by our friends or by our Surrey chiropractor, as adults we tend to spend 40 hours or more a week in an uncomfortable chair, hunched over a computer.

Hours of improper posture can lead to back pain, neck strain, headaches, or worse. So how can we help our employees become healthier, happier and more productive? Here are some everyday tips for preventing common workplace injuries.

Choose the Right Chair

Ergonomic chairs aren’t one size fits all, so be sure to choose one with adjustable seat height and armrest height to ensure a proper fit. You should be able to sit comfortably at the back of the seat with your feet on the floor, and the armrests should be at a height that allows your forearms to comfortably rest while being low enough to slide under your desk. Your elbows shouldn’t be winged out, but hanging at a fairly vertical alignment. As well, a good ergonomic chair will have lumbar adjustment to support the inward curve of the lower back and will have swiveling capabilities so you won’t have to strain to reach for things.

Adjust Your Monitor

Monitors placed too close or too far away will force you to maintain awkward posture. Adjust your screen so that it’s at eye level, and so that it’s between 40 cm (16 inches) and 74 cm (30 inches) from your face. You can fine tune your monitor to further reduce strain by adjusting the screen contrast and icon/font size to a more comfortable level.

Utilize Proper Telephone Techniques

Always use your hand to support the phone—never cradle it between your ear and your shoulder—and alternate hands frequently. If you’re on the phone a lot, consider using a speakerphone or investing in a headset. This will not only alleviate neck strain, but also free up your hands for typing or taking notes during a call.

Position Your Keyboard Properly

Investing in an expensive ergonomic keyboard isn’t the only way to prevent strain. A standard keyboard will do the trick, as long as you position it correctly. Place it above your lap and directly in front the monitor so you’re both typing and looking straight ahead. You should be able to comfortably type with your arms close to your body and your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle.

Loosen Your Grip on the Mouse

Place your mouse where you don’t have to stretch to reach it and always hold it with a relaxed, gentle grip. And when you move the mouse around, move from the elbow, rather from the wrist down. It also helps to learn as many keyboard shortcuts as possible to limit mouse use.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very good tips! As a freelance writer, I will spend eight to ten hours daily at home working on the computer. These suggestions are invaluable for someone like me. Great hub!

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