Workplace Ergonomics

The Physicians Committee


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Workplace Ergonomics

Workplace Ergonomics

After hours sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen, employees often leave their offices feeling sore and tight. This checklist will help you keep your body aligned and strong.

  • Prolonged hunched or elevated shoulders while holding the phone
  • Telephone headset
  • Speaker phone
  • Elbows splayed out (shoulder abduction)
  • Lower work surface
  • Lower chair armrests
  • Raised or tensed shoulders
  • Lower work surface or keyboard
  • Lower chair armrests
  • Raise chair, use footrest if necessary
  • Twisting head to the side
  • Bring viewed item closer to centerline of view
  • Elbow flexed for long periods using the telephone
  • Telephone headset
  • Speakerphone
  • Elbow or forearm resting for long periods on hard or sharp work surface, chair armrests
  • Pad or round surfaces, corners, and armrests
  • Replace armrests
  • Telephone headset
  • Wrists bent to the sides when using side keys
  • Sit centered on alpha portion of keyboard with letter “B” lined up with buttons on shirt
  • Use keyboard with more accessible keys or split keyboard design
  • Wrists bent back (extended) or forward (flexed) for prolonged periods
  • Change slope of the keyboard to mimic angle of thighs
  • Wrists or palms resting for long periods on hard or sharp keyboard or work surfaces
  • Palm rest
  • Padded or rounded surfaces, corners
  • Hands held actively over the keyboard during keying pauses
  • Palm or forearm rest
  • Prolonged mouse use
  • Alternative pointing devices
  • Mouse close to body (extended keyboard tray)
  • Prolonged sitting, especially in only one position
  • Greater work variety
  • Chair that supports posture change, through movement, size, or easy adjustability
  • Move phone and printer to the other side of the office to force standing, or suggest standing when on phone
  • Check chair fit
  • Monitor in-out mechanism
  • Sit-stand work surface
  • Lumbar back area not supported
  • Lumbar cushion
  • Backrest height and tilt
  • Check chair fit, especially backrest/lumbar height
  • Feet dangling, not well supported, or a posture which seems to put pressure on the backs of the thighs
  • Lower chair
  • Lower work surface
  • Foot rest
  • Chair backrest not used for long periods
  • Check chair fit, especially seat pan depth and height
  • Check leg room
  • Check monitor distance and character height
  • Utilize adjustable keyboard tray
  • Twisted torso
  • Rearrange work
  • Provide more knee space
  • Convert U-shaped work surface layout
  • Swivel chair
  • Frequent or prolonged leaning or reaching
  • Rearrange work
  • Mouse pad, palm or forearm rest
  • Bring mouse and keyboard closer to body
  • Working with one or both arms "reaching" toward a mouse or keyboard
  • Bring keyboard closer to body
  • Mouse pad, palm or forearm rest
  • Bring mouse closer to keyboard
  • Light sources that can be seen by the worker
  • Cover or shield light sources
  • Rearrange work area
  • Move other viewed objects to lower field of view
  • Too much contrast between screen and surroundings or document; worker feels relief when bright areas are shielded
  • Lower ambient light levels
  • Turn off, reposition, or dim task lights
  • Block offending light sources
  • Very bright ambient lighting (above 500 lux or 50 fc) or shadowed areas caused by over-illumination
  • Lower ambient light levels to 200-500 lux (20-50 fc) and use task lights
  • Monitor closer than approximately 65 cm (25")
  • Push monitor back (enlarge font size)
  • Bring keyboard forward with a keyboard tray
  • Screen or documents not oriented perpendicular to the line of sight (tipped back slightly is even better)
  • Change monitor and document stand angle
  • Monitor image dim, fuzzy, flickers, small, or otherwise difficult to read
  • Upgrade monitor
  • Use software to enlarge image
  • Shiny, low-contrast, or small-print documents
  • Improve lighting on documents if documents cannot be changed
  • Forward head posture (peering) or squinting
  • Lower monitor
  • Tilt monitor back
  • Check for monitor image quality problems, character height or monitor distance
  • Eyestrain complaints
  • Check all aspects of visual environment
  • Suggest consultation with vision specialist
  • Neck extended backwards, head tilted back, even slightly
  • Remove CPU from under monitor
  • Neck severely flexed (downward)
  • Tilt face of monitor back
  • Tilt document - do not lay flat on work surface
  • Raise document or monitor to a comfortable height
  • Adjust posture

Thanks to longtime PCRM vendor Ergoform for these tips and solutions to help us keep our bodies in check throughout the workday!