- Sit with your back against the chair back.
- Pull your chair in to the desk as far as you can.
- Tuck your chin in – avoid “peering” into the monitor.
- Don’t slouch – pull shoulders back and keep upper back straight and flat.
- Relax shoulders – avoid elevating or “hunching” shoulders. Relax elbows close to torso.
- Change position frequently in your chair.
- Alternate tasks every 15-30 minutes if possible.
- Take two-minute micro-breaks from your desk every hour. Walk around the office.
- Always take a full lunch break and eat lunch away from your desk.
- Adjust the height of your chair so that your knees are at 90° of flexion and your feet are flat on the floor.
- Adjust the height of your desk or keyboard tray so that your elbows are at 90° of flexion.
- Adjust the lumbar support at belt level or slightly above (to support the natural curve of your spine)
- Adjust your backrest upright or tilted back slightly (90-110°)
- Lower armrests so that they can fit under the desk or keyboard tray.
- Use the seat pan slider to maintain 1-2” between the back of the knee and end of seat pan.
- Place the monitor directly in front of you.
- Place the monitor an arm’s length away from you.
- Place the top of the monitor screen level with the height of your eyes (10-15° below the horizontal)
- Avoid cradling the phone at your shoulder – use one hand to write or type and the other hand to hold the phone, ask to put the client on hold, or use a headset.
- If you perform data entry, use a copy stand or document holder to lessen neck rotation and flexion.
- Keep your wrists neutral when keyboarding and mousing.
- Avoid resting your wrists on the desk or wrist rest – keep the keyboard and mouse as close as possible to you.
- When mousing, place the pressure on the pad of your palm, not your wrist.
- Bring all frequently used items close to you on the desk (e.g. telephone)
- Move all items from underneath the desk that are blocking your legs.
As with any professional consultant, it’s important to make sure that your ergonomic consultant is certified. Having a certified professional means that you are getting top quality service and in the case of ergonomics, it means that you will get it right the first time. A certified ergonomic consultant will ensure that all angles are looked at and will recommend the proper and necessary equipment. Ergonomics is a tricky science – if you change one thing, you have to make sure you won’t be affecting another thing. For example, if you get a new desk that’s higher than your old one, you need to adjust your chair and keyboard tray accordingly. If the wrong ergonomic recommendations are made, this could result in new injury or re-injury and nobody wants that.
The gold standard in North America as a certifying body is the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE – www.bcpe.org). This organization has been around since 1990 and is endorsed by the International Ergonomics Association (IEA – www.iea.cc). As per the BCPE website “The BCPE certifies practitioners of human factors/ergonomics. A practitioner is defined as an individual who has (1) a mastery of ergonomics knowledge; (2) a command of the methodologies used by ergonomists in applying that knowledge to the design of a product, process, or environment; and (3) has applied his or her knowledge to the analysis, design, test, and evaluation of products, processes, and environments”. If you hire a consultant that is certified by the BCPE, you can be confident that your consultant has met the criteria and passed the exam qualifying he or she to practice ergonomics.
Be sure to check educational background too. Unfortunately physical therapists, occupational therapists, and nurses aren’t automatically ergonomic specialists because of their background. It is important to check for ergonomics certification and experience to make sure you are hiring the best possible person.
Also be wary of “ergonomic consultants” who work for furniture and chair manufacturers. It is likely that they can only recommend their company’s equipment which might not be the best for your particular needs. Check also to make sure your consultant does not have any financial incentive to promote a particular store or manufacturer.
Following these guidelines will ensure you get the best possible ergonomic consultant for the money and will leave you pleased with your ergonomic investment.