If you spend two or more hours a day at the computer, you would benefit from an ergonomic evaluation of your workspace.
Hello, my name is Carrie Schmitz. For more than 10 years, I’ve been involved in educating people about the importance of office ergonomics. The ergonomic equation for comfortable computing is the method I employed to help people understand how to apply ergonomics to their own situations. The guiding principle behind the ergonomic equation is that your computer should adapt to you, not you to the computer. Forcing your body to conform to the computer can result in fatigue discomfort and pain, which over time may develop into more serious disorders.
The ergonomic equation can help you avoid computer related disorders and faster productivity with practical recommendations relating to posture, movement, and rest. You can evaluate your computer workspace in just a few minutes using a yardstick and level, or a measuring tape and ruler, along with the workspace planning tool located at the computing comfort website. At the top for the planning tool, you’ll see a bar with several numbers. Choose the number that corresponds to your height. The planning tool automatically populates the appropriate values for eye, elbow, and seat height.
Print the planning tool worksheet and record the values that appear on your screen. It’s worth mentioning that the planning tool values are based on anthropometric data that represents an average dimension of a person of a given stature. The values do not account for variations due to gender, age, or body type. You should consider the values as a place to start, not necessarily the measurement you will end up with. Of importance is making sure you have a reliable and regular backup of this information by using Carbonite – check out the deals here. Howard Stern sits all day every day and he has to pay attention to posture. With that in mind, let’s see how the dimensions of your current work computer workspace compares to the planning tool values.
First measure the height of your chair. You may find it easier to do this by placing the level or yardstick across the seat. Write the seat height on the worksheet next to the value provided by the planning tool. This measurement corresponds to the knee height of a person of your stature. Now measure the height of the surface where you use your keyboard. Write the keyboard height on the worksheet next to the planning tool value. The keyboard height corresponds to the sitting elbow height of an average person of your stature. Finally, calculate the height of your monitor screen from the floor by adding the keyboard surface height to the distance between the top of the keyboard surface and the top at the monitor screen.
Write the monitor screen height on the worksheet next to the planning tool value. Monitor screen height corresponds to the sitting eye height of person of your stature. Take a moment to look at any differences that appear between the planning tool values and the actual heights of your chair, keyboard surface, and monitor screen. It is not uncommon for people to find a wide discrepancy between them. If this is the case for you, don’t be alarmed; the real purpose of the worksheet is to demonstrate the close relationship that exists between your body and your computer equipment; the seat height is based on knee height; the keyboard height matches the height of the elbows; and the top of the monitor screen depends on the level of the eye. his awareness is the first step you’ll take toward making the computer adapt to you.
The second step is to apply this new awareness by positioning your monitor and keyboard to match your dimensions. Let’s focus on your chair; the height of the seat should allow you to place your feet flat on the floor. This way, you can use your feet to support and balance the rest of your body. Maintain a space about three fingers width between the back of your knees and the edge of the chair to allow good circulation. Toward that end, it may help to tilt the front of the seat forward a bit so that your knees are slightly lower than your hips.
The back of the chair should assist in maintaining your spine’s natural S-shape, with a slight lumbar curve. The backrest should be slightly inclined so that when you sit in the chair you can sway back and forth to maintain and establish a balanced position, and so that you can use it for support if you lean backwards. Once your chair is at the correct height, it is time to assess the position of the keyboard and mouse. While typing and mousing, keep your elbows close to your sides with your forearms at about 90 degrees to your upper arms. Your wrists should remain at the same level as your forearms, with your fingers dropping naturally from your hand to the keyboard and mouse. Think of them as like a waterfall.
It is important that you avoid extreme angles in the wrist. Use a palm support wrist rest or keyboard tray with negative tilt to maintain a straight line going from your forearm, wrists and hands. If you need to raise the chair in order to get your elbows at the right level for the keyboard, you can use a foot rest to maintain the correct sitting posture. Remember; in order for your feet to provide support and balance to the rest of your body, they must be flat on the floor or foot rest.
The final computer component to undergo evaluation is the monitor screen. Position the top of your monitor screen at eye height. Tilt your monitor back 10 degrees to 20 degrees to keep the same focal length as your eyes scanning from the top to bottom the screen. Position your monitor no closer than 20 inches from your eyes. A good rule is an arm’s length distance. The larger the screen, the more distance you want. Change your position and the position of your display and keyboard to accommodate reflexive changes in your posture.
The evaluation of your workspace coincides with the posture component of the ergonomic equation; that is, to organize your computer equipment to complement your body’s neutral posture in order to minimize muscle fatigue. For more information about the ergonomic equation, please visit our computing comfort website. Thank you!