General Ergonomic Guidelines for Technology Users
- Written by Bayle Emlein
Ergonomics looks at what kind of work you do, what tools you use and your whole job environment. The aim is to find the best fit between you and your job conditions. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ergonomics.html accessed August 27, 2011)
Ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. Effective and successful "fits" assure high productivity, avoidance of illness and injury risks, and increased satisfaction among the workforce. Although the scope of ergonomics is much broader, the term here refers to assessing those work-related factors that may pose a risk of musculoskeletal disorders and recommendations to alleviate them.
Common examples of ergonomic risk factors are found in jobs requiring repetitive, forceful, or prolonged exertions of the hands; frequent or heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying of heavy objects; and prolonged awkward postures. Vibration and cold may add risk to these work conditions. (http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/ accessed August 27, 2011)
The world has an epidemic of injuries caused by poor ergonomics. These injuries are often hard to spot until they really hurt and harder to treat because they develop slowly through repeated actions. (They are sometimes called repetitive stress injuries, RSI.)
Our bodies were designed to change activities. Keep yourself healthy and able to work at your best. Even a short break, a change of activity, can be very helpful. Learn some stretches that you can do in public: Take a couple of breaths, both in and out. Stand up if you can. Stretch your fingers, hands, arms, back, and legs.
Computers and electronic games are particularly likely to cause RSI since people do the same small motions over and over for a long time without a break and without paying attention to their bodies, including their eyes.
Learn the ergonomic adjustments you need for different tasks. In order to support efficient body usage in regard to the use of technology, especially computers, there are several areas of concern to monitor and adjust in order to reduce potential physical stress. These include:
General physical position
- Maintains healthy alignment
- Promotes efficient use of body in completing tasks
- Does not create physical imbalance or stress
- Normal spinal curves supported
- Sitting in a chair where the body is properly supported
- Feet flat on floor
- Ankles and knees at right angles (seat needs to be right height and depth for this)
- Hips at right angles or with knees slightly below hips (no more than 20 degree angle
- Lower back supported by chair back, allowing 2" between edge of seat and back of knees
- Chair is not too deep or shallow
- For keyboarding, upper arms are at sides, relaxed down from shoulder sockets
- Elbows are at right angles, wrists are flat, and may be supported by a wrist rest
- Head is supported on spine, over hips
The PowerPoint presentation on Ergonomics by Bayle Emlein from the Main Meeting on Friday, September 2, 2011. If the PowerPoint appears to be cut off on the screen below, click on the rightmost icon to reduce the size to fit the window.