Are you an office worker who spends hours each day at a computer? While your workplace might be typically free of strenuous activities and industrial equipment, it does not mean that you are not at risk of a workplace injury. Many office workers suffer from repetitive stress injuries (RSI) like carpal tunnel syndrome, which are caused by typing, sitting, looking at a monitor, and using a mouse all day for five days a week.
An ergonomic workstation can help reduce your risk of suffering an RSI, though. If you do not already have an ergonomic workstation, then you should talk to your boss about setting one up. Healthy workers are happy workers are productive workers, after all.
What should the typical ergonomic workstation look like or include?
- Lumbar support chair: Sitting for hours each day can start to cause a back injury as time goes on. A chair with adjustable lumbar support is a good way to allow a worker to sit as they want with as little back strain as possible. Employees should also be encouraged to sit with good working posture, which includes keeping the head facing forward with limited left-to-right movement.
- Adjustable monitor: Workers should be able to adjust their monitor height and position to minimize neck strain. There are monitor mounts with long arms that can be easily adjusted in all directions.
- Optional standing desk: Some office workers prefer to stand for the majority of their shifts. Adjustable standing desks should be used at ergonomic workstations, which allow workers to stand and sit as they want throughout the day.
- Overhead or room light control: Migraines and eye strain can occur if an office worker sits in a room with lighting that conflicts with their visual preferences. For example, bright overhead office lights can be enough to trigger migraines in some people. An optimized ergonomic workstation will allow a worker to adjust the brightness level of their specific station or cubicle.
- Footrest: Using a footrest while seated for hours can promote healthy blood flow, which can otherwise stagnate or slow due to blood pressure issues. Workers without a footrest should get up and walk around more often than other workers.
- Ergonomic keyboard and mouse: Don’t forget the ergonomic essentials: a specialty keyboard and mouse designed to minimize strain. There are various designs of ergonomic keyboards, so you might need to find one that works right for you and your preferred typing posture.
Should Your Keyboard Be Flat or Raised?
Given that a good ergonomic keyboard is often the center of an ergonomic office workstation, it is worth answering a common question about keyboards: should it be raised or flat? Most ergonomic experts recommend that you should either have your keyboard flat on the desk or at a negative tilt, which means the top of the keyboard is tilting away from you and the bottom is slightly raised. Ironically, most keyboards come with built-in legs to prop up the top of the keyboard, causing a positive tilt. To achieve a negative tilt to your keyboard, you can do something as simple as putting a short stack of adhesive notes under the two bottom corners.