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Workstation Ergonomic Solutions

How can employees be sure they are implementing the right solution the first time?

“A simple, systematic process can be used to find the best solution for addressing stressors found in the office work station,” said David Brodie, Director of Training and Education at Ergonomics Center of North Carolina.  Brodie outlines two areas where employers can cut costs and obtain the correct safety solution the first time around.

Adjust furniture and layout

Too many offices buy new expensive ergonomic equipment and furniture before assessing what they already have.  One of the simplest solutions is to make adjustments to existing office furniture and workplace layout.  Many individuals are using equipment that can fit them, but it seems uncomfortable due to poor adjustments or setup.

Assess the workplace by measuring chair and work surface heights.

  1. Height of the chair should be such that the thighs are parallel to the floor while the feet are flat on the floor.  There should be about three-fingers width between the end of the seat pan and the back of the worker’s leg.  Armrests should be adjusted to slightly below the height of the elbow while working.  Lumbar support should be approximately at belt-loop height.
  2. The keyboard should be at a height so that the worker’s elbows are bent at 90 degrees.  The tray should be angled so that the worker’s wrists are straight when hands are on the keyboard.

If adjusting the current setup does not provide a complete fix, the next option is to purchase equipment. 

Purchase needed items

The acquisition of furniture and equipment in the office environment is a very important decision from both an economic and ergonomic point of view.  If the correct choice is made, then a valuable addition has been made to the office.  Brodie offered the following tips for purchasing equipment:

  1. Reduce the options.
    Even if only one supplier is used, there still may be a large number of options.  A good rule of thumb to apply here is quality vs quantity.
  2. Try before you buy.
    An equipment evaluation should assess adjustability, design, task and esthetics.  Whenever possible, evaluate a piece of furniture in the office setting before it is purchased.  Regardless of how the best possible options are determined, the final decision on usability depends on the employee.  Does the piece fit the person and/or the office space?  Has the piece accommodated the needs of the employee?