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General Information

Office Ergonomics

PREPARE yourself to work.

Most of us do this to some extent already.  It’s pretty intuitive but worth noting.  Think about how you get ready to work.  Do you take a moment before you sit down?  Did you have a long commute and already sit in the car a lot?  Then maybe you should prepare your work area while standing and moving.  You could even do a brief stretch or exercise before you sit. 

 

POSITION

Start with your chair.  Is it in the same position that you left it in since your last day at work?  For most of us, that is the case.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, a chair may have been moved or altered.  If this is the case, re-adjust the chair.  If you don’t know how your chair can be modified, we can assist.  The chair seat height should be at about the level of your knees when standing.  When you sit in the chair, make sure you slide your hips as far back into the seat as you can.  This will help your lower back properly contact the backrest.  Other adjustments, if your chair has them, can be changed to suit your body dimensions (seat depth, seat or back angle, etc.).  If armrests are on the chair, position them so they do not interfere or obstruct your movement at the desk.

When sitting or standing in front of a computer, try to line the components up with the corresponding body part.  the eyes or the top of the ear are about level with the top of the monitor screen.  The elbows are about level with the keyboard and mouse.  Any other tools that are used such as writing tools, phones, or files should be placed as close as possible to minimize reaching.  It is best to accomplish this by adjusting the position of your computer components to fit your unique body dimensions.

 

Use the keyboard and mouse efficiently…

PERFORM

When typing, center the ‘G-H’ keys on the keyboard with the midline of your body and your primary monitor.  The wrists should be in a straight and comfortable position with the fingers gently curved.  If you cannot access the home row keys without an uncomfortable bend in your wrists, an alternative keyboard may be warranted.  Resting on the desk surface or wrist rest should typically be avoided while the fingers are actively moving and typing.

For mousing, place the palm of the hand on the mouse and let the fingers relax flat on the buttons.  The fingertips will likely extend beyond the mouse buttons.  This will feel counter-intuitive to most people but it will align the wrist in a more neutral position and reduce contact pressure on the mouse surface.  Let the hands glide by moving the arm slightly, in a motion similar to rubbing something with a sponge.  Let the fingers lie flat on the buttons and click with the finger pads, not the tips.

ADDITIONAL TIPS

Never spin a scroll wheel on a mouse with your fingers to scroll pages.  The preferable alternative is to use key commands or the auto-scroll feature that is available on any mouse by pushing the scroll wheel like a mouse button.  Arrows will appear on the document or web page that will scroll the page with limited mouse movement.  Also, if you find that a large range of mouse movement is required to navigate the curser, consider increasing the pointer speed.

 

 

PAUSE

One of the risks associated with prolonged computer use is lack of movement.  If you have multiple tasks to perform and your tasks change often or if you get interrupted frequently, you might be moving sufficiently.  If not, you need to create interruptions for yourself, such as... 

  • Short task breaks of a couple of minutes are suggested every 20-30 minutes. During that time, take your hands off the computer and get out of the chair.
  • Take a short walk or do some stretches.
  • If you print documents schedule several trips to the printer throughout the day.
  • Stand when talking on the phone or doing other non-computer tasks, if possible.
  • Consider talking face to face rather than emailing someone that is close by.
  • Use a more remote restroom than usual, such as one on another floor.
  • Take scheduled breaks and lunch away from the desk and computer.

Once your PAUSE is finished, re-POSITION yourself and PERFORM until the next PAUSE is warranted.

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