Video:Ergonomics at Workwith Dr. Mona Khanna
Back aches, eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome are just a few common work-related injuries. Find out how to set up your work space to avoid these and other injuries.See Transcript
Transcript:Ergonomics at Work
Common Injuries from Poor Ergonomics at WorkIn case you hadn't noticed, working at a computer can be a real pain in the neck. It can also be a pain in the back. And a pain in the arms and wrists. The fact that many people spend hours at a desk every day staring at a monitor has made the computer one of the most dangerous tools in the workplace.
According to some estimates, computer-related injuries account for half of all lost workdays. Common problems include back aches, repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, general muscle pain, and eye strain. The cost of all that discomfort: about $20 billion every year in worker compensation claims. That's the bad news.
Ergonomic Work StationThe good news is it's not that difficult to create a work station set up that will help protect you from injury. A big part of the problem is that we base a lot of the way we sit and work at our desks on outdated ideas.
Ergonomic ChairsLet's start with your chair. If you're sitting in a rigid 90 degree posture, you're probably doing more harm than good. The best posture is actually the one that is most comfortable. That means reclining or a slight slouch is often better for your back. Your chair should be low enough so that your feet rest on the floor.
Keyboard PositioningTo position your keyboard correctly, aim for what experts call negative slope. To achieve that, it should be below desk level so your wrists are straight, rather than angling up to the keyboard. Then place the mouse right next to your keyboard.
Computer MonitorConventional thinking about monitor placement has also turned out to be wrong. Instead of placing your monitor 18 to 24 inches away from yourself, you should actually position your monitor as far away as possible, as long as you can still read it clearly.
Ergonimic LightingFinally, lighting is an important consideration. The wrong kind of lighting not only strains your eyes, it causes headaches, back aches, and neck strain. Most people have too much room light, which creates glare on the screen. But they don't have enough light on their desk where they need it to read documents. Adjustable desktop lamps can help you direct the light to where you need it most.
Work Ergonomics and MovementOf all the things you can do to protect yourself from computer-related work injuries, the most important is movement and activity. Current research suggests that sitting in a fixed, rigid posture all day is just about the worst thing you can do. The ideal office set up should allow you to move freely and change positions easily. And don't forget to take a break. Regularly. While it's good to get away from your desk for 10 or 15 minutes every hour or two, experts now believe that a quick 30-second pause every 10 minutes is just as important.
I'm Dr. Mona Khanna, About Health.
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