When it comes to ergonomics, having the right mindset is just as important as having the right office furniture, says Dora Potter. "You need to pay attention to what your body is telling you and not neglect your physical needs. Once your body begins to hurt, you aren't going to be able to work for normal amounts of time. You're going to have to take time to recover from the aches and pains. You end up having to take a day or two off from your normal schedule because you've overused and overextended your body, and that's not very efficient."
Potter suggests working no more than five hours at a stretch each day, and taking plenty of 10 minute breaks during the workday to stretch or walk around the office. "The more breaks you take during intense activity, the more you protect your body from stress and injury. I think people don't really understand that you can't just sit at PC for five to six hours at a stretch without getting up and moving around." Potter also suggests that you break up activities, like standing up while on the telephone, using a headset and walking around your office, or mouse-clicking with your nondominant hand.
Products and Resources
Check out these products to help you stock your office with ergonomically correct furniture and accessories:
- The Obusforme Multi-position Chair ($650-$700) from Comfort House promotes good ergonomic posture with an adjustable back that conforms to the natural contours of your spine and a contoured seat that evenly distributes your body weight and minimizes pressure under your thighs to promote proper circulation. Available in a variety of configurations, the highback model also offers a removable/adjustable headrest. For more information, call (800) 359-7701 or visit www.comforthouse.com.
- Constantly straining to reach objects on or around your desk? Keep everything within arms reach with the InterActive WrapAround Desk from Office Organix. Designed for intensive computer use, the WrapAround (the basic model costs $645) integrates a height- and tilt-adjustable keyboard tray into the workstation, which comes with two raised wing shelves perfect for printers or other peripherals. Constructed from maple laminate, pear laminate or cherry veneer, the Wrap Around is a modular system that can grow as your office does. Visit the Office Organix Web site for more information.
- The MS102 Monitor Stand from the 3M Corp. is an inexpensive way to raise your monitor to a comfortable viewing height, It easily adjusts in increments of 1½-inches by adding or removing drawer sections. Stable and sturdily designed, the MS102 can handle monitors weighing up to 80 pounds, and provides desktop storage underneath the monitor. The price is $34.99, and additional drawers cost $12.99 each. Visit 3M's Web site for more information.
- The Kinesis ergonomic keyboard can be adjusted to accommodate a wide range of user preferences, including keyboard length and lateral tilt position. Comfortably padded wrist supports and quiet tactile keys alleviate typing stress, while the board's narrow footprint leaves plenty of desktop space for a mouse or the Kinesis's optional numeric keypad. The keyboard costs $149 and is available from www.kinesis-ergo.com.
- Designed from the ground up for intensive mouse users, the Anir Vertical mouse from Animax International looks very much like a pilot's joystick. And just like a joystick, the Anir encourages a natural vertical hand position with the thumb pointing upwards, taking the strain off wrists and forearms. Users rest the back of their hand at the base of the mouse and use the thumb on the switch on the top of the stick for easy right and left clicks of the mouse button. The Anir is available for both PC and Mac systems, and requires no drivers or other programs to install. The two-button model costs $49.95, and the three-button model costs $69.90. Visit the Animax Web site for more information.
Web Site Resources
- Safety Stretch Program An online illustrated manual of stretches for stressed-out office workers
- Individual Footprint for Total Workstation Comfort is a short quiz offering guidelines for analyzing your work environment to see if it meets ergonomic standards.
- Ergonomics tips and links from the Environmental Health and Safety Department of East Carolina University
- Workstation Ergonomics Checklist from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health