Billie Hall is our resident ergonomist and spends 1 day per week going out to offices to do onsite work station assessments.  Billie works within Media City as well as many prestigious companies making recommendations to make work life easier for people in pain.  Billie has been working in this field for over 15 years and so has a wealth of knowledge about how to make life easier at work as well as sourcing the best value for money equipment if this is required. Coming out to do an assessment usually lasts about 1 hour and a fully DSE compliant report is sent within a couple of days, along with clear instructions on what to buy, where from and how much. Prices for the service vary depending on what is required but Billie is always happy to discuss this. Ergonomics is concerned with the ‘fit’ between the user, equipment and their environments. It takes account of the user’s capabilities and limitations in seeking to ensure that tasks, functions, information and the environment suit each user. Our assessments are tailored to the individual circumstances and based on principles used over many years of workplace experience. As an example, below is the procedure we would adopt for setting up a workstation:   Adopt a relaxed and supported posture when sitting. Avoid static postures: Remember that there is no perfect posture; even an acceptable posture becomes unacceptable over time if stuck in it for hours – take a break hourly, just a quick stretch will do. Make sure you change your working posture regularly and vary your tasks as far as you can throughout your working day. Adjusting your chair: Make the effort to adjust your office chair so that it is comfortable for you:

  • Move your chair in close to the desk and relax back fully into it to get support from the backrest. Make sure you adjust the height of the backrest so that the lumbar support fits neatly at your waist level.
  • Make sure both your shoulder blades are firmly supported on the back rest – this will keep the neck in a good position.
  • Tilt the backrest back by about 10 to15 degrees from vertical – this opens up the angle between the trunk and thigh, and reduces the stress on your lumbar spine so that it is generally more comfortable.
    • Raise the chair seat so that, with your shoulders relaxed and upper arms hanging vertically by your side, your elbows are at the height you want to work at – when using a keyboard your fingertips should rest comfortably on the home row of keys (ASDFGHJKL), with your forearms horizontal and wrists straight(ish.
    • Height-adjustable armrests can provide additional support for the upper body when not keying.  However, if armrests, drawer pedestals, wastepaper bins, clutter, etc, prevent you from sitting close into the desk consider removing them.  When not using the keyboard etc, rest the arms right back on the armrests to give the upper back a stretch.
    • For those chairs with a free-float mechanism, use it as much as possible, getting into the habit of driving your chair actively with your feet.

Footrest Having adjusted your chair to the correct working height, if your feet do not rest comfortably on the floor then you need a footrest.  For tall users (6 feet plus) if the desk is too low, when the chair is at a comfortable height, it may need to be raised. With your feet firmly supported on the floor or footrest, the knees should be slightly lower than your hips. Position the monitor As a rule of thumb the top of your display screen should be at eye height, an arm’s length away and positioned directly in front of you, although the final position is a matter of trial and error / personal preference.  For example, if you are not a touch typist you may find it more comfortable to lower the monitor a little as this minimises neck movements as you look between the keyboard and screen. You are aiming to work with the back of the neck long. Workstation layout Arrange your desk to make best use of the available space.  Position the keyboard about 10 cm (4 inches) from the front of the desk. If you are sitting at the correct height you shouldn’t need to use a wrist rest, and generally we recommend that you don’t use one for keying or using a mouse as this can cause overuse problems at the forearms. Other equipment, such as the telephone should be readily accessible without stretching or twisting. Clear the space under the desk so that you can sit comfortably without having to twist or lean forward. Mouse position and use It is important that you are able to use your computer mouse with your arm in a relaxed position and not outstretched either to the side or in front. If you use the mouse with your right hand and do not use the number pad on the right of the keyboard consider using a short keyboard (without the number pad) as this will allow you to bring your mouse closer into towards your body and prevent overreaching. Use of a document holder For typists who need to look at the keyboard, ideally the document holder should be placed between the monitor and keyboard to avoid twisting. Telephone use Do not wedge the telephone between your ear and shoulder, in order to write or type.  If you are right handed consider holding the receiver in your left hand so that you can make notes if necessary. If using the phone is a large part of your job you should consider using a headset. Using laptop computers Using a separate keyboard and mouse will allow you to use a laptop stand to raise the screen up so that you can sit in a more upright and comfortable posture. Final thoughts

  • Your perfect workstation set-up will be different from your colleague’s and is likely to change over time.  It is important that you adjust your workstation to discover what suits you.
  • If you do not know how to use the controls to adjust your chair you will find it difficult to sit in a comfortable position. It is important that you are trained in, or read the instruction leaflet on how to, adjust your chair
  • Don’t forget – most people sit for far too long at work without taking a break. Stand up, stretch, or change your task every 30 minutes or so.