We hear this word all the time and yet do we really understand its significance? What is ergonomics? It is the scientific discipline that studies how humans interact with the elements of a system? Say what?…simply put, it studies how people interact with the tools we use in our daily lives and also provides recommendations for proven solutions or improvements in efficiency. Ok let’s boil it down even more…correct ergonomics allow us to do a job in comfort and without pain!
When telling the tale of ergonomics in the computerized work place, there are 4 main characters…
- The Worker
- The Keyboard or Desk Height
- The Monitor Screen
- The Chair
The plot of this tale basically examines how all of the characters above interact and establish long term happy relationships with each other. Oh sure, anyone can sit in a badly designed ergonomic work space for a short time…its over the long term that we can truly see how well the above characters are suited to each other and will live happily ever after!
For example, the worker’s eyes should line up with the upper portion of the monitor screen. If not, over the long term, the worker’s neck may get really angry and make its displeasure known! Or perhaps the keyboard or desk height is too high so that the worker’s wrists are not in a neutral position (i..e not aligned horizontally). Repetitive motion and ill positioned wrists provide the perfect setting for carpel tunnel syndrome and lots of aggravation never mind stressed shoulders that result from the bad fit.
The office supply market is filled with equipment, tools and furniture to help improve how we feel and produce in the working environment and quite honestly some can be quite costly. Adjustability for proper task chairs is key and beware of cheap versions that do not offer support or flexibility. It is not unusual to spend $700. or more for a quality task chair. Other ergonomic tools that can bring relief to an improperly designed space are under mounted key board trays to correct improper keyboard height and footstools to assure feet are flat on the floor while maintaining a 90 degree position at the knees.
Like any worthwhile relationship, finding the proper tools and learning how to use them in an ergonomically correct work space requires patience and sometimes even a little bit of trial and error but in the long run, it is well worth the effort!