Be Healthy

Ergonomics

 
Ergonomics is the science of designing products and processes with a focus on the people who use them.  Proper ergonomics are a big part of workplace safety and personal wellness.  It is very important to "fit the job to the worker" and not the other way around.
 
Ergonomic Self-Check 
 
Physical problems can develop over time when repetitive work is combined with hours of poor body positioning.  Want to do a self-check?  Just download our BeWell Ergonomics Checklist.
 
For best results:  Enlist the help of a co-worker.  Another set of eyes can usually spot ergonomic issues and possible solutions more easily.
 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common hand and arm condition that causes numbness, tingling, and other symptoms.

 
 

Ergonomics
for the Home Office
  
It’s important to set up your workspace so you can limit distractions, maintain productivity, and keep your body comfortable in the process. But setting up a workstation at home has its challenges. Chances are you may not have a dedicated room or space in your home, an ergonomic chair, a wrist rest, or a monitor riser, among other equipment. Here are our ideas to keep you safe while working from home.
 

Mind your Wrists

No wrist rest for your keyboard or mouse? Try using a rolled up towel, or an empty paper towel roll in front of your keyboard, or empty toilet paper roll in front of your mouse to support your wrists (who knew even those cardboard centers would be coveted?!)
 

Support your Lower Back

If you don’t have a good ergonomic chair at home, your lower back may suffer as a result. Try placing a small pillow, cushion, or rolled up towel against your low back for added support. 
 
Pay Attention to Your Seated Posture
 
Having a non-adjustable chair comes with it’s share of challenges. You’ll want to make sure that the chair you do end up using isn’t pressing into the back of your knees, as this can reduce blood circulation to the lower legs. Knees should be at hip height, or a tad lower. If you are of shorter stature and your feet aren’t resting firmly on the ground, elevate them by placing them on books or a box to serve as makeshift footrest. Forearms should be parallel to the ground, with your keyboard and mouse level with, or below your elbows. Sit comfortably with relaxed shoulders,and your computer screen at eye level.
 
 
Photo: Colorado State University
Pay Attention to Your Standing Posture
 
Are you leaning forward? Resting on your forearms? Remind yourself to stand up straight, stacking ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, and hips over ankles. Are you standing on a hard floor for long periods of time? Try standing on a lightly cushioned mat. A folded over yoga mat, small rug, or play mat can serve as a good stand in. Need some ideas for taller surfaces where you can work while standing? If your kitchen counter isn’t quite the right height, try an ironing board, or a box placed on top of your current work surface.
 

                                                                                  Photo: Scoopcharlotte
Protect Your Neck
 
A lot of us flex our necks forward to look down at a screen. This is likely to be even more of a frequent occurrence if you are now working solely on a laptop. If you have an external keyboard and mouse available, try placing your laptop on a stack of books to bring it to a height where your head is neutral while looking at the screen. If you are working on a desktop, try doing the same with your monitor. Next, make sure your elbows are level with your wrists, or slightly above them. If you don’t have an external keyboard to use with your laptop, raise up your laptop if you will be reading for an extended period of time, and lower it back down when you need to type, to get the best of both worlds without unnecessary strain. Don’t type while your laptop is elevated! It will only lead to more problems.
 
Don’t Forget Your Eyes
 
If your daily tasks require you to read papers at your workstation, ensure you have adequate light to do so. Tasks lighting is more effective than overhead lighting to prevent eye strain. Be mindful of any glares on your computer screen that could contribute to eye fatigue as well. Remember to give your eyes a break from the screen periodically - try the 20-20-20- rule. Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away.
 
 
 
Remember to Stretch and Move Around
 
Even with a fully set-up home office and perfect posture, you still need to take regular breaks whether you typically work sitting down or standing up. Set a timer if you have a hard time remembering to get up and move. You may use your Fitbit or phone to give you a nudge. Or check out the Pomodoro Timer to help you achieve better time management, and have regular reminders to take breaks. Work until the timer goes off, then enjoy a break to stand up and take a couple minutes to move, stretch, or prepare one more cup of coffee. 
 
Check out these simple stretches you can do from home.
 
Want to try some yoga postures to help stretch out your body after a non-ergonomic workday? Go here.
 
Curious of others makeshift work-from-home spaces? Check ‘em out here.

Have questions about your workspace? Email us a picture of you at your workstation, and we would be happy to offer feedback! bewell@albemarle.org 

 
Resources: