Ergonomics
Office Ergonomics 

What is the problem with having an office job that requires sitting all day?  The reality is that an office job can be unhealthy, aggravating illnesses including musculoskeletal problems, cardiovascular disease, and/or diabetes.  It can also put your mission readiness at risk.  The answer is to MOVE YOUR BODY.

The nature of computer work is sedentary; it involves prolonged seated postures without any whole-body movement.  This can have negative effects on both your body and brain.

 Negative Effects on Your Body 

For the most part your body is exposed to static loading of the muscles with little opportunity to move around.  These static postures impair circulation and cause strain on the operator’s muscles, tendons and ligaments.  The body part with the most opportunity for movement is the hands and wrists, however this dynamic activity can be too dynamic with potential for these body parts to suffer a WMSD.  An improperly designed office is associated with many risk factors including:

  •  highly repetitive wrist motions with little recovery time
  • non-neutral hand posture 
  • non-neutral wrist, neck, back, and shoulder postures
  • static muscle loading especially to the back and neck
  • visual and mental demands
  • contact stress to the thighs and wrists  

There is also a lot of new research that shows sedentary behavior can aggravate complications from musculoskeletal/cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes external link icon.

 Negative Effects on Your Brain

From a technical standpoint, you are interfacing with your computer through the mouse, keyboard, screen(s), and even the computer’s speakers.  By remaining too sedentary while using a computer you are putting the interface between you and your computer at risk for failure.  Remaining at the computer for too long lowers your cognitive vigilance external link icon; pain or discomfort from a bodily injury or not moving could distract you from your computer task.  These can easily cause you to make an error and decrease your mission readiness.

 What You Can Do About It

When you move your body during computer work you are doing a number of good things: you are increasing the blood flow throughout your body so your cells can bring in more oxygen and carry out more waste (by the way, not all blood flows because of your heart and blood vessels.  Some blood is circulated by moving your muscles).  You are also doing what’s called “attentional switching,” meaning your mind is getting a break from your computer task so you can return to it shortly with renewed vigilance. 

This page will show you the ergonomic way to adjust your chair while you do sit, how to arrange your desk so you can sit in an ergonomic posture, and give you a checklist created by OSHA on how to do your own office evaluation external link icon.  But none of these solutions can help relieve these problems unless you varying your body’s position while seated (and/or standing) at the workstation and by taking breaks from repetitive and static postures external link icon. 

 

Office Ergonomic Checklist external link icon

This simple, printable checklist from the OSHA website external link icon will take you step-by-step assessing if you are sitting in an ergonomic position, is your monitor adjusted correctly, and is your office set up correct for you.

 

Step by Step Ergonomic Set-Up of Your Office Chair    

This PowerPoint presentation is on how to set up your office chair and workstation in an ergonomically correct and safe manner.



Fact Sheets

These printable one- or two-page Fact Sheets cover everything you need to know about setting up your office workstation,  where to place your monitors and keyboard, and to how to evaluate products when you are shopping for ergonomic equipment.

 Title

 

Purpose Audience Format Series Date (Published)
Know What to Look for in an Ergonomic Chair Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
Pros and Cons of a Sit-Stand Workstation Guidance, Procedures Health Professionals, Soldiers and Beneficiaries Not Applicable PHC Fact Sheet July 2011
Use an Exercise Ball for Excercise Not as a Desk Chair Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
Your Computer Workstation May Need a Footrest Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
You Can Arrange Your Desk So That It's Right For You Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
You Should Know How to Prevent Injuries While Using Your Laptop Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
Your Computer Workstation Should Include the Right Input Device for You Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
Your Computer Workstation Should Include the Right Keyboard for You Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
Your Computer Workstation Should Include a Monitor That's Easy to View Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
Your Computer Workstation Should Receive Appropriate Lighting and Guard Against Glare Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
Use a Document Holder to Improve Posture and Reduse Eye Strain Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet  April 2011
Evaluate Ergonomic Products to See If They Meet Your Needs Assessment, Consultation, Study, Survey Findings Health Professionals, Soldiers and Beneficiaries PDF-Portable Document Format PHC Fact Sheet April 2011