How to design an ergonomic workplace


Date: 7 December 2010

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A bad working environment can be very expensive for businesses and painful for individuals. Among office workers, repetitive strain injuries are common, not to mention headaches, sore eyes, and aching backs and shoulders.

Adjustable monitors and keyboards and good seating arrangements can reduce the risk of injuries. Getting the right temperature and keeping noise down can maximise productivity.

Ergonomic IT checklist

  • Position your keyboard and mouse. Experts recommend that you place your keyboard and mouse so that you can use them with your body in a relaxed, comfortable position. If you have to reach for them or hunch your shoulders to use them, they're in the wrong place. Try alternating between your left and right hand when using the mouse to get a break.
  • Get comfortable with your notebook. Consider buying a docking station and external keyboard (with number pad) and mouse for your notebook when you use it for extended periods. Alternatively, a notebook stand can make using a notebook in the office more comfortable and convenient.
  • Choose ergonomic keyboards. Look for a keyboard that has different levels of tilt, including the ability to lie completely flat.
  • Reduce eyestrain with an adjustable monitor. Put the monitor directly in front of you at arm's length. Adjust the height so that you can see it with your back straight and your eyes tilted slightly downwards. Try to avoid reflections or glare on the screen. A monitor that can swivel and adjust in height will be more comfortable because you can adjust it as you change your posture during the day. Consider using an adjustable second monitor for your notebook when it's in the office – it'll be more comfortable for extended use.
  • Reduce noise to increase productivity. Ringing phones, music and loud noises increase stress, interrupt concentration and reduce productivity. Try to minimise unwanted noise.
  • Set the right temperature. Productivity falls if the temperature varies far from around 25C. Getting too hot or too cold can slow you down.

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