Working at a desk may not seem like it can cause strain but poor ergonomics and improper set-up can cause a wide range of issues from headaches and back pains to longer-term issues. We’ve put together this quick workstation assessment guide to help you take stock of your set-up and implement changes before small issues become big concerns.
Adjust your seat
When looking at your workstation the first thing you want to look at is your chair. First, check the height. Make sure the chair height allows you to use your keyboard with your wrists and forearms level, parallel to the floor. Imagine your arm forming an ‘L’ shape at the elbow and you’re on the right track. Doing this reduces the potential strain on your wrists and hands, especially if you do a lot of typing every day.
Your seat should also have ample back support. To do this, adjust the height and tilt of the back of your seat. Your seat should allow you to have your knees slightly lower than your hips and support your back as you type.
Rest your feet on the floor
While we’re looking at the chair you should also consider where you rest your feet while working. While it can be comfortable to cross your legs or perch on your seat, ergonomic support works best when you have your feet planted on the floor. You can either simply place your feet directly in front of you on the ground, or get a footrest to give you an elevated angle to rest your feet on.
Keep your screen at eye level
Once you have your seat adjusted it’s time to turn to your screen. Make sure your screen isn’t too close or far away, about an arm’s length away. Once you have the distance right, ensure the screen is directly in front of you and most importantly of all, at eye level. This will prevent shoulder or neck strains as you won’t have to crane your neck for extended periods to see your screen.
Place your keyboard and mouse straight in front of you
Now you’ve got your seat and screen in the right place, you can move your peripherals to match. Most of us work with a keyboard and mouse every day so having these well-placed can reduce the chance of strains, aches, or pains.
With your arm in an L-shape, place your keyboard and mouse directly in front of you. You should leave a small gap at the front of your desk to give you somewhere to rest your wrists between typing sessions. Once you’ve done this you should have a comfortable setup that protects your posture.
Keep everything you need for work within reach
This one is pretty basic but keeping your equipment within easy reach just reduces strains from stretching. This may seem trivial but issues like ‘tech neck’; where people who repeatedly reach for a handset can end up developing recurring shoulder and neck strains are all too real. By either changing to hands-free alternatives or placing items within easy reach, you can reduce potential issues and work more efficiently and comfortably.
Avoid straining your eyes
Once you have your station set up, consider how it feels to use it throughout the day. Does it get glare from a window at any point during the day? Is the screen too bright? Or too dark? If you feel like after a long day that your eyes are tired or strained, then chances are your screen is not optimised.
To avoid straining your eyes you should take regular breaks from the screen and limit screen time in general. Try to look out a window and focus on objects in the distance to give your eyes some exercise and get away from the harsh light of a monitor. Another consideration is to reduce glare as much as possible. If you find the sunlight at a particular time reflects off your monitor, consider moving during those hours and working somewhere else. Alternatively, you could close the blinds or curtains until the glare is gone.
Take regular breaks
Regular breaks are not just for your eyes, but your body too. By taking regular breaks you can stretch tired muscles and relax parts of your body that have been tensing for too long. More short breaks are better than a few long breaks. You can even combine regular breaks with simple stretching exercises to give your body and mind a break.
If you’re working from home, set timers on your phone to force yourself to take a break or use trips like bathroom breaks or making a cup of tea to get away from your desk and get some much-needed movement.
Trust the experts with ergonomic assessments
As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can improve your workstation for ergonomic support. Ask yourself. How is your desk compared to these ideas? Have you implemented some of these already? Perhaps you need an ergonomic workstation assessment?
To answer these questions, employers and employees can help each other. When it comes to who is responsible for your workstation assessment it usually falls to the employer to ensure their team has everything they need to work safely. If you’re planning to return to the office it’s important to carry out regular workplace assessments. For working from home, ‘employers should provide workers with advice on completing their basic assessment at home.’
If you need a hand implementing changes or carrying out workstation assessments, vehicle assessments, or a general office ergonomic consultation, the expert team at Vita Health Group is here to help.
Our rehabilitation specialists and physiotherapists are well-versed in understanding the demands of the modern workplace and provide face-to-face as well as digital assessments to ensure conditions meet best practice guidelines. By doing this, we help your team work safely and efficiently with fewer days lost to injury. Contact us to find out more about our workstation assessments and how we can transform your workspace into a comfortable environment for all.