Ergonomic Work Surface Setup
Plan your work surface to get your work done right.
The market offers several ready-made ergonomic work environments. These are, in fact, advanced computer desks, which are designed ergonomically. Obviously there is no need to go out and purchase a brand new computer desk to be "ergonomically correct", even though it is advisable for those who can afford it. In any case, if the thought of a new furniture scheme for your home or office is being entertained, selecting an ergonomic set should be taken seriously.
Amazon is currently offering a fantastic line of ergonomic tables from LEDA Home Furnishing. It’s worth taking a look.
If you've decided to stick with your existing desk, and want to make the most of it, the instructions below are for you:
The correct height for your work surface should be the height of your elbows, when your arms are flat to the side of your body, while sitting at the chair in front of your desk.
It is also important to leave enough legroom under the work surface.
When planning the height of your work surface, you must also take the height of your chair into account; when the work surface, or keyboard is at elbow level, your feet should rest flat on the floor. If this cannot be achieved, an ergonomic tip is to use a footrest beneath your feet, so they lay flat, parallel to the floor. Phone books work very well too.
Most of the existing office desks are higher than is recommended. They are adjusted perfectly to the needs of writing, or other office tasks, but not for continuous work in front of a computer. Instead of rushing out to get a new desk though, it is possible to install a mobile shelf right below the current level of your desk surface, which would have room for your mouse and keyboard. This will allow you to keep your current desk, and allow you to lift your arms to the true desired height. Many such items can be found, from simple keyboard trays to complex devices, which can be personally customized.
Generally speaking, it is highly recommended to have room on top of your work surface to accommodate any storage of materials, as appose to keeping them beneath the work surface. Storing materials below the work surface is an ergonomic mistake, which can lead to unnecessary and very un-recommended bending and bowing on a regular basis.
If there is little storage room on the work surface, materials used infrequently should be stored elsewhere.
There are 3 main "zones" regarding items and materials used by you, which are kept on your work surface. These categories will help you prioritize, and decide on the best place for each item.
- The "Rare Zone": items kept at a distance of 20 inches or more from the user.
- The "Occasional Zone": items kept at a distance of 10-20 inches from the user.
- The "Usual Zone": items kept at a distance of up to 10 inches from the user.
Items kept in the Usual Zone: This area should contain only items that are used most frequently, for example: keyboard, mouse, note pad…
Items kept in the Occasional Zone: This area should contain items that are used periodically, for example: telephone, calculator, in-out tray…
Items kept in the Rare Zone: This area should contain only items that are seldom used or for display only. For example: pen/pencil cup, desk plant, photos, clock…
If you are using a laptop computer, optimizing its work surface, ergonomically speaking, can be a bit tricky.
A special base that helps adjust the height and angle of a laptop monitor for a healthier and more comfortable work experience has been developed for exactly this situation.
For a list of available bases, click here.
Regarding lighting of the work surface; it is suggested to have a ceiling light hung right above your computer monitor. This maximizes lighting of the overall work surface with minimal glare on the monitor itself.