7 Ergonomic Tips for Desk Workers

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October is National Ergonomics Month, as designated by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society in the U.S. That means it’s time to focus on how you sit, where you work and what you use to work on a daily basis. And although the “work from anywhere” attitude can be fun, working ergonomically means avoiding the posture shown in the photo below. You can use this list of tips to run a quick check through your working environment and habits to see how you can improve your ergonomics.

Start with a Good Chair

A ergonomic chair supports your back, legs, buttocks, and arms in a way that is relaxed and stress-reducing. Typically, an adjustable chair is the best option for desk working because it allows you to set it to fit your posture and adjust it to accommodate your sitting position during the day.

Make Sure You Have Lumbar Support

Lumbar support means having a backrest on your chair that appropriately supports your lower back. If your chair doesn’t provide this support, you can use a rolled up towel or small pillow between your back and the backrest of the chair.

Focus on Your Posture

When sitting at a desk, your posture should reflect neutral body positioning. This posture lets your joints align naturally so it reduces stress and strain on the muscles, tendons and skeletal system. In neutral body positioning, your:
  • Hands, wrists, forearms, thighs and hips are parallel to the floor
  • Head is level
  • Shoulders are relaxed
  • Elbows are close to the body
  • Feet are supported by the floor or a footrest
  • Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support

Place Your Monitor at a Good Location

The top of your monitor should be at or below eye level, placed directly in front of you and at least 20 inches away from your face. You should be able to comfortably read without moving your head or adjusting your posture.

Improve Lighting and Avoid Glare

If there is poor lighting or a glare on your screen, you may have to adjust your posture in order to see clearly. You may also develop eyestrain or headaches. Arrange your desk so you minimize glare from lights and windows, and use well-distributed diffused light that has less glare and is softer.

Don’t Forget About Your Keyboard and Mouse

The tools you use to work on your computer — namely your keyboard and mouse — can often be the biggest culprits of dangerous posture. Make sure your mouse is right next to your keyboard, it’s the correct size and shape for your hand (if you are left-handed, be sure to use a left-handed mouse), and your keyboard rests securely on a flat surface. You also want to make sure you use a wrist or palm rest to avoid contact with the sharp edges of your desk.

Get Comfortable

Ultimately, you want to be working comfortably your entire workday without feeling fatigue in your muscles or joints at the end of the day. Make sure your legs have enough room, you can reach everything you need access to, and you can read without strain. These tips have been summarized from the OSHA Ergonomic Solutions: Computer Workstations eTool
. There are many more ergonomic tips available on the site. Image credit: frencenz

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Ergonomic Tips for Desk Workers

What is the ideal posture for desk work?

The ideal posture for desk work is one that promotes comfort and reduces the risk of injury. This involves sitting with your feet flat on the floor, your back straight, and your shoulders relaxed. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle, and your wrists should be in a neutral position. The top of your computer screen should be at eye level or slightly below, and about an arm’s length away. Regularly changing your position and taking short breaks can also help to prevent discomfort and fatigue.

How can I set up my workspace ergonomically?

Setting up your workspace ergonomically involves adjusting your chair, desk, computer, keyboard, mouse, and other equipment to fit your body and the way you work. Your chair should be adjustable, with good lumbar support. Your desk should be at a height that allows your elbows to be at a 90-degree angle when typing. Your computer screen should be at eye level, and your keyboard and mouse should be within easy reach.

What are some exercises I can do to relieve tension and fatigue?

There are several exercises you can do to relieve tension and fatigue. These include neck stretches, shoulder shrugs, wrist stretches, and leg extensions. Taking short breaks to stand up and walk around can also help to improve circulation and reduce fatigue.

How can I prevent eye strain when working at a computer?

To prevent eye strain, adjust the brightness and contrast of your screen to a comfortable level. Take regular breaks to rest your eyes, and use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If necessary, consider using computer glasses that filter out blue light.

What is the importance of ergonomics in the workplace?

Ergonomics is important in the workplace because it can help to prevent injuries, improve productivity, and enhance job satisfaction. By designing workspaces and tasks to fit the worker, ergonomics can reduce physical stress and strain, and help workers to be more comfortable and efficient.

How can I maintain good ergonomics when working from home?

Maintaining good ergonomics when working from home involves setting up a dedicated workspace, using an adjustable chair and desk, positioning your computer screen at eye level, and using a separate keyboard and mouse if necessary. Regular breaks and exercises can also help to prevent discomfort and fatigue.

What are some common ergonomic mistakes to avoid?

Common ergonomic mistakes to avoid include sitting for too long without breaks, using a chair or desk that is not adjustable, positioning your computer screen too high or too low, and using a keyboard or mouse that is too far away. Ignoring discomfort or pain can also lead to more serious injuries.

How can I improve my posture when sitting at a desk?

To improve your posture, sit with your feet flat on the floor, your back straight, and your shoulders relaxed. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle, and your wrists should be in a neutral position. Regularly changing your position and taking short breaks can also help to improve your posture.

What are the benefits of using ergonomic equipment?

Ergonomic equipment can help to reduce physical stress and strain, prevent injuries, and improve productivity. This includes adjustable chairs and desks, ergonomic keyboards and mice, and computer screens that can be adjusted for brightness and contrast.

How can I make my workspace more ergonomic on a budget?

Making your workspace more ergonomic on a budget can involve simple changes like using a cushion for lumbar support, raising your computer screen with books or a stand, and taking regular breaks to stretch and move around. You can also consider investing in ergonomic equipment over time.

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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