Ergonomics in the Workplace

SPD’s occupational therapist, Lavanitha Roshan, shares some tips on adjusting your workstation to reduce stiffness and aches in your neck and shoulders after sitting for long hours.

Do you experience stiffness and aches in your neck and shoulders after sitting for long hours at work? SPD’s occupational therapist, Lavanitha Roshan, shares how adjusting your workstation can provide you with better support.

For many office workers, a significant amount of work is completed at a workstation using a computer. If the work station is cluttered or the height of the table is too low, you may have to maintain an uncomfortable position over a long period of time, resulting in a poor posture. This can increase the risk for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as pain or tightness in the shoulders or lower back pain.

Therefore, it is important to adjust your workstation and maintain a good posture to improve your wellbeing and comfort. Here are a few tips.

Workstation

The workstation comprises of the work table, chair and computer. These are some points to note for each piece of furniture:

Chair

  • Choose a chair and table that is adjustable and stable.
  • The height and armrest of the chair should be adjustable to fit your specific needs. The recommended height for a chair is between 35cm and 50cm.
  • The backrest of the chair should provide good support for the back and be able to recline slightly to relieve pressure off the spine.
  • The armrest should be adjusted such that your arms are gently resting on the armrest and the shoulders are relaxed.

 Table

  • Similarly, choose a table that can be adjusted to the height of 70cm and there should be enough space under the table for you to stretch comfortably.
Adjust your workstation and maintain a good posture to improve your wellbeing and comfort (Picture: Workplace Safety and Health Council)
Adjust your workstation and maintain a good posture to improve your wellbeing and comfort (Picture: Workplace Safety and Health Council)

Computer

  • The screen should be placed directly in front of you with a viewing distance of 45cm to 70cm.
  • The top edge of the computer screen should not be higher than your eye level. This will help prevent vision and neck problems.
  • The keyboard and mouse should be placed on the same level with you being able to adopt a natural hand position.
  • The sensitivity of the mouse can be adjusted so that light touch can be used to operate the mouse.
  • Arrange frequently used items on the table to be within arm’s reach to minimise overstretching of the arm. Less frequently used items can be placed further away in a secondary storage zone that can be about 60cm away.
Arrange frequently used items on the table to be within arm’s reach to minimise overstretching of the arm and less frequently used items further away (Picture: Workplace Safety and Health Council)
Arrange frequently used items on the table to be within arm’s reach to minimise overstretching of the arm and less frequently used items further away (Picture: Workplace Safety and Health Council)

Work Posture

 Other than making changes to the workstation, you can make changes to your posture as well:

  • While sitting in your chair, it is important to maintain an upright posture with your hip scooted to the back and touching the backrest. Your feet should be placed flat on the ground.
  • It is encouraged to change posture, stretch, stand or walk around every 20 to 30 minutes to relieve stiffness.
  • If a longer break is not possible, short pauses of 20 seconds to 30 seconds may provide relieve as well.
Stretching and taking a short break every 30 minutes can help relieve stiffness and improve productivity at work. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Stretching and taking a short break every 30 minutes can help relieve stiffness and improve productivity at work. (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you have noticed that you or your colleagues have an incorrect posture or a cluttered workstation, don’t wait! Make the change now to a more comfortable and positive experience at work.

References

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