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5 Tips for Setting up an Ergonomic Workstation

Thursday, March 26, 2009
By Anne Kramer

 Ergonomics focuses on the creation of safer and more efficient workspaces. One of the most important places to employ ergonomic principles is the computer workstation. Following these five simple tips will ensure an ergonomically friendly workspace for every employee.

1. Determine what kind of computer will be used at the workstation.
  • Because all the components of a desktop computer can be adjusted independently of one another, a monitor riser or keyboard tray may be sufficient.

  • Laptops present a greater challenge. A docking station with a regular keyboard and mouse, or a desk created especially for laptops, can minimize the effects of the attached screen and keyboard.
2. Consider how the computer will be used.
  • Frequency of use determines the importance of the ergonomic workstation. If the computer will be used for more than four hours per day, ergonomic adjustments are critical.

  • If only one person will use the workstation, everything can be customized for that user. If there will be multiple users, however, it is important that every aspect of the workstation, from the desktop to the chair, be fully adjustable, to accommodate any user.

  • Different tasks create different ergonomic priorities. If the workstation will primarily be used for word processing, keyboard placement is most important. Meanwhile, if graphic design is the main focus, mouse location is the central concern.
3. Select appropriate furniture for proper support and alignment.
  • Choose a stable work surface that provides enough room for all equipment. Ideally the desk will accommodate a keyboard/mouse tray system. A table or desk with adjustable legs can be adapted to a greater number of users and tasks. Footrests are also necessary for shorter users.

  • The chair should encourage proper posture and give lumbar support. The back of the chair, along with its height, should be fully adjustable to suit a variety of tasks and users.
4. Place frequently used items close at hand.
  • A document holder eliminates turning the head to read documents while typing. It should be place directly to the right or left of the computer monitor.

  • Frequently used office supplies, like a stapler or paperclips, should be readily accessible. A desk carousel keeps these items organized within easy reach
5. Create an ergonomic environment in the office.
  • Proper lighting reduces stress on the eyes. There should be no glare on the screen, so computers should not be positioned to face windows. If such placement is unavoidable, or if the overhead lighting is too bright, an anti-glare screen reduces stress on eyes.

  • Taking mini breaks reduces tension in the muscles. The whole workstation should be designed to encourage alternation between sitting and standing. For instance, file cabinets can be configured to require leaving the computer and standing.
Creating an ergonomically friendly computer workspace will pay off in the form of increased efficiency and decreased risk of injury. Through analysis of each component of the workstation, it is easy to make the office comfortable for all employees.



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