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Blog by Dr. Michael Horowitz | May 6th, 2010

Ergonomics at the Workplace

The Science of fitting humans to their work environment

By: Dr. Michael Horowitz, Community Chiropractor


Ergonomics in the Workplace, Vancouver

Why is this important - to avoid Repetitive Strain Injuries & other Common Complaints
. Most common office workplace related symptoms are Headaches, Neck/Shoulder pain/tension, Shoulder Blade pain, Lower Back pain, Tingling or Numbness (CTS, TOS), Weekend-Warrior Syndrome (WWS), Irritability, Fatigue & decreased Productivity at the workplace!

  • Sitting – increases stress on low back, tight hamstrings & hip flexors. Frequent breaks, walking around, stretching, physical activity outside of work is very important.
  • The Chair – adjustable, 90-degree rule, avoid twisting, use a back support with 5-cm lumbar support! Height and arm rest adjusted (pressure on arms, not shoulders), 90-120-degrees of pelvic flexion, straight wrists. (Low Back Pain, Shoulder/Arm Tension), front of seat should be curved to avoid pressure on the back of the thighs. A sturdy 5-point base.
  • Seating Alternatives – Swedish ball, recumbent chair, standing.
  • The Monitor – At eye level or just below, straight in front of you, about 2-ft away (arms distance). Glare? Anti-Glare-Screen. Check room lighting. Can cause fatigue. Have eyes checked every 2-yrs. Multiple monitors? Take a break, look 20-ft away, refocus every so often. Raise it if necessary.
  • The Keyboard –, 90-degrees at elbows, 180-degrees at wrists, ie no wrist bend, mouse-wrist support, ergonomic keyword. Short Cuts, (CTS, TOS, WWS), Adjustable or Keyword Mounted under Desk – may be necessary
  • The Mouse – how far away is it from you. 100reaches/day? Look for short-cuts to save time & effort. Ease up on grip.
  • Documents/Papers – have documents hold close to screen & in front of you. Watch for C/S flexion or rotation.
  • The Telephone – headset, if on more than 1-hr/day, get one! (Headaches, neck & shoulder pain/tension). Why – asymmetry, and lateral tilt.
  • The Laptopa horrible & wonderful invention. Where are you using it? On the bed, on the couch, what’s your workstation like at home? Get an external keyboard!
  • Foot Rests if legs do not reach ground, takes pressure off the back of the thighs, helps keep weight back, avoiding leaning forward and minimizes bad habits (ie crossing legs).
  • Bad Habits – crossing legs, sitting on legs (pressure, decreased blood flow, cramping, varicose veins, etc)., twisting, slouching (8-12lb head), leaning to the right! Take Breaks – stretch for blood flow & release of tension. See Dr. Michaels favourite stretches. Pens/Pencils – use larger barrelled pens/pencils to make them easier to grip.