Workplace injuries are more common than you think. They start off as small niggles in the neck and a twitch in the back and before you know it you have sustained a work injury. Most of these injuries could be avoided by being proactive in applying simple principles. Remember prevention is better than cure. Here is a four-step checklist that you can carry out at your workstation, to make sure you’re comfortable, safe and productive at the office.
STEP 1: Asses Your Seating Posture Chair
- Push your hips as far back as they can go in the chair.
- Adjust the seat height so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees equal to, or slightly lower than, your hips.
- Adjust the back of the chair to a 100°-110° reclined angle. Make sure your upper and lower back are supported. Use inflatable cushions or small pillows if necessary. If you find that these do not work consider a chair with lumber support. A critical part of modern chairs is to have an active back mechanism on your chair. This will allow you to make frequent position changes.
- Adjust the armrests (if fitted) so that your shoulders are relaxed. If your armrests are in the way, remove them.
- If you find your feet dangling, do use a footrest.
STEP 2: Asses Your Keyboard and its Location
- Pulling up close to your keyboard will prevent fatigue in your wrists and shoulders.
- Position the keyboard directly in front of your body.
- Determine what section of the keyboard you use most frequently, and readjust the keyboard so that section is centred with your body.
- Adjust the keyboard height so that your shoulders are relaxed, your elbows are in a slightly open position (100° to 110°), and your wrists and hands are straight.
- Wrist-rests can help to maintain neutral postures and pad hard surfaces. However, the wrist-rest should only be used to rest the palms of the hands between keystrokes. Resting on the wrist-rest while typing is not recommended. Avoid using excessively wide wrist-rests, or wrist-rests that are higher than the space bar of your keyboard.
- Should you be one of those who uses your mouse or long periods investigate a different mouse which will avoid RSI
STEP 3: Screen, Document, and Telephone
- Centre the screen directly in front of you, above your keyboard.
- Position the top of the screen approximately 2-3” above seated eye level. (If you wear bifocals, lower the screen to a comfortable reading level.)
- Sit at least an arm’s length away from the screen and then adjust the distance for your vision.
- Reduce glare by careful positioning of the screen. Position source documents directly in front of you, between the screen and the keyboard, using an in-line copy stand. If there is insufficient space, place source documents on a document holder positioned adjacent to the screen.
STEP 4: Pauses and Breaks
- Take short 1-2 minute stretch breaks every 20-30 minutes. After each hour of work, take a break or change tasks for at least 5-10 minutes. Always try to get away from your computer during lunch breaks.
- Avoid eye fatigue by resting and refocusing your eyes periodically. Look away from the monitor and focus on something in the distance.
- Rest your eyes by covering them with your palms for 10-15 seconds.
- Use correct posture when working. Keep moving as much as possible