Does changing your workstation really help? Part 2
In part 1 we looked the surprising conclusion that has resulted from reviewing thousands of studies about office ergonomics:
‘There is NO evidence that making workstation adjustments ALONE will help prevent repetitive strain injuries’ (Dennerlein, 2010).
This conclusion does not mean we should ignore the diagrams of the ‘perfect posture’, but it does help us realize that there are other factors we need to look at as opposed to just making minor adjustments. So how do we critically evaluate our own workstation? I will show you a simple way to get started on your own ergonomic analysis.
When I assess a workstation, I often hear ‘I just want to make sure that my chair and keyboard are at the right height’. First, there is no perfect height but there is a way to determine approximately how high your chair, keyboard and monitor should be based on your own height. Go to the following website and enter your height:
This can be used a starting point for your height. If your chair is higher than recommended don’t panic. It is better to have it a little higher than too low. Based on current research, I would also suggest lowering the monitor 1-2 inches than indicated.
This is usually where a trained professional can provide some assistance. Although it takes some practice and experience it doesn’t mean you can’t try it yourself. Have someone take a picture of you working in your natural posture (the posture you use while working, not a ‘posed’ picture). It’s best taken at the side and from behind. This will give you an idea of your tendencies or habits. Key things to look for:
Once you realize how you are working, you can ask yourself why you work that way.
Are you leaning forward to write in front of the keyboard? Are you reaching because you’re leaning back too far. Is your posture a result of other equipment in the way, avoiding pain, or simply a habit? You can see that setting yourself up in the ‘perfect posture’ doesn’t mean you will work in that position. Once you understand why you work in your natural working posture, you can try to make some posture changes.