The most frequent type of work in large cities takes place in an office, sitting down on a chair in front of the computer. It is considered, by all standards, the most comfortable and rewarding type of work.
True, we have free coffee, crystal clear spring water at the water cooler and all the modern tools we need to perform our work in the best conditions.
But are we really comfortable at work?
Not really, if we consider all the conditions related to a sedentary lifestyle. Most people spend eight hours or more sitting down on a chair and looking at a computer screen. This is not a healthy lifestyle and it is made worse by an incorrect posture on the chair and the lack of ergonomics of the desk and the tools we use every day.
Workspace ergonomics is a very important aspect in ensuring that people perform their activities in a healthy environment. Most countries worldwide regulate this aspect and there are generally accepted rules and norms regarding the correct posture while working at a desk.
Today we will go through the general recommendations for setting up your chair, desk, computer and tools you use in your daily activities so that you have a safe, healthy and ergonomic work environment.
An ergonomic chair is a must-have for people who spend their entire day sitting down and working on a computer. The ideal office chair can be adjusted in several points:
– the height of the seat from the floor
– the height of the backrest
– the height of the armrests
– the tilting of the backrest backwards and forwards
The correct sitting position is with the feet resting relaxed on the floor, and the waist, knees and elbows angled at 90°.
The back rest must be adjusted to a position in which it offers adequate support to the lumbar region. Also, an ergonomic office chair should have 5 swivel wheels, allowing you to move around the desk space with ease.
The proper height of a desk for a seated person is between 64 and 86 centimetres from the floor. The desk should offer sufficient leg room for various sitting positions, at a minimum of 49 centimetres deep and 76 centimetres wide. Height adjustments should be easy to make to accommodate a healthy and comfortable posture, sitting exactly in front of the computer monitor.
The Computer Monitor
The correct position of the computer monitor is at an arm’s length distance from the eyes (45-72 centimetres), with the top of the screen slightly below the eye level. The ideal computer screen has a matte finish which does not reflect the light, with the contrast and brightness levels of the screen adjusted so that it does not cause eye fatigue. If you have to use a printed document as a reference for a computer document, the printed papers should be placed on a stand directly under the monitor, creating a 35° angle between the paper sheet and the computer screen.
The Keyboard and Mouse
The keyboard should be placed on a flat surface directly below the computer monitor, at a height allowing a neutral position of the wrists. The mouse should be placed at the same level as the keyboard, to its side, and allow for a neutral and relaxed position of the wrist. The recommended width of the keyboard and mouse platform is a minimum 72 centimetres, with the possibility of sliding in and out of the desk to allow adjustment for comfort.
If you talk frequently on the phone and type on a computer keyboard at the same time, you should have a phone headset with a microphone that extends from the earphone. Cradling the phone between the head and shoulder is very unhealthy and will cause neck and upper back pains on the long term.
All the other office consumables and tools, which you use frequently should be placed around you on the desk within reach. If you cannot reach an item without effort, you should stand up and take it instead of stretching over the desk.
As a final reminder, you should always take breaks between tasks and stand up every 45 minutes and walk around the office.
Also, after 25 minutes of continuous work on the computer, you should focus your eyes away from the screen and on a neutral distant point in order to avoid eye fatigue. Small exercises, such as rotating your wrists, extending your fingers and moving your head from side to side, will also help you avoid strain and fatigue.