7 Ergonomic Tips for Desk Workers

By Alyssa Gregory

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

  • eltron

    I been told that you never want to use any wrist pads, as you don’t want any points of contact along your wrist. Your wrists will end up supporting your arm but that isn’t what you want. Read the link below

    This is sourced from: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

  • http://www.adelaide-website-design.com.au WavyDavy

    All this talk about ergonomics but nothing on standing desks, thats quite surprising.

  • Nathan

    You’ve got the equipment and how it should be used pretty well covered but also, if something is wrong, don’t be afraid to make adjustments. That’s the whole point of an adjustable monitor arm or chair. I’ve heard of some people being stopped from changing the positioning because it was already “ergonomically correct” but if you get told that, speak to someone higher up if you have to. There is no universally correct ergonomic position, because no two humans are identical. The correct set-up for you is correct for you alone and you should not have to be content with someone else’s idea of an “ergonomically correct” position.
    Also, don’t be afraid to get up and stretch. Don’t feel self conscious about it either because it makes all the difference. I’ve found that just stretching your arms above your head helps but if you can get up and stretch too, all the better.
    We’re actually trialling a system at the moment, where we get everyone in the office to stand up and stretch at the same time. I must admit, it’s not been met with much enthusiasm and I’ve never been called a sadist so many times in my life but I still think it’s going to catch on.



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