Working in a poorly designed office space can put unnecessary strain on your joints. Using equipment that helps you keep your posture and proper positioning can greatly reduce your risk for repetitive strain injuries and arthritis. Whether you work in an office or at home, it is important to be mindful of workspace ergonomics and protect your joints with the ergonomically correct equipment.
What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. OSHA recommends implementing ergonomic principles in the workplace in order to reduce the number and severity of musculoskeletal disorders, like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, resulting from exertion. According to the CDC, the goal of ergonomics is to prevent soft tissue injuries and musculoskeletal disorders caused by sudden or sustained exposure to force, vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture. It is important to be familiar with ergonomics, particularly if your job requires you to be seated for long periods of time or do repetitive motions.
Using Ergonomic Equipment
Using ergonomic equipment is fairly simple. Several online retailers sell ergonomic equipment, but first, you must understand the different kinds of equipment and how they can support you.
Use ergonomically correct equipment to adjust your workspace to fit your needs and limitations. Your body should feel comfortable using the equipment in your office space. Set up your office for success and efficiency by using the ergonomically correct equipment to protect your joints.
Choose a chair that has proper lumbar support, meaning that it supports the natural curvature of your back. The chair should allow your feet to rest firmly on the ground with your arms at 90-degree angles. There should be a 1-inch gap between the backs of your knees and the seat, and the chair should be at least 1 inch wider than your hips on each side. Your chair should also have a headrest that can support your neck.
Select a chair that is adjustable in height, lumbar support, and armrests in order to reach optimal comfort. Additionally, choose a chair that rolls so that you can avoid straining your arms and shoulders when reaching for things.
Use a footrest if your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor in your office chair. The footrest should allow your knees to bend at a 90-degree angle.
Whether you use a monitor and computer or a laptop, keeping your screen in the right position and height is essential for protecting your neck and eyes. The neck and upper back are among the most common places where strain injuries occur. The top of your monitor should be at your eye level. This allows your neck to bend comfortably to a 15-degree angle when looking at the screen. The screen should be directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. Try to position your screen perpendicular to any windows in the room in order to avoid eye strain.
Keyboard and Mouse
An ergonomic keyboard and mouse can protect the small joints in your hands and wrist from injury. There are many types of ergonomic keyboards. Some are sloped in the middle, while others use padding to protect your wrist. Regardless of which type you choose, your keyboard should allow you to keep your wrists straight and flat with your arm.
An ergonomic mouse allows your hand to rest in its natural position, which is similar to a handshake. Always keep your mouse close to your keyboard and on the same surface as your keyboard. Try using keyboard shortcuts in order to cut down on the number of times you need to reach for your mouse.
Protect your joints with ergonomically correct equipment that allows you to adapt normal items to your needs. Adaptive equipment can range from using a wrist brace to a pen grip. These items are especially useful if you already have joint pain, which makes it difficult to perform daily activities.
There are many small adjustments you can make in your workspace to make it safer and to better support and protect your joints. Keep all the important items that you routinely reach for within arm’s reach. This will prevent shoulder and arm strain. If your occupation has you frequently using the phone, try using a headset to avoid the repetitive motion of picking up and putting down the phone. Set up a document holder that holds papers at your eye level to avoid unnecessary strain on your neck from looking down at your desk. Try switching out some of your normal office equipment for ergonomic equipment! You will see and feel the difference. These are just some of the steps toward a safer workplace.
How Can We Help?
Work Health Solutions offers comprehensive healthcare solutions for your medical needs, including injury prevention. Our qualified team treats patients and employers alike and always provides top-quality service. Our quality service is backed by years of experience working with academic and research institutions, corporate healthcare, Fortune 25 companies, small governments, and local businesses. Reach out today with any questions you may have about how we can assist you!