Ergonomic Assessment & Risk Factors

Renee Quinn

Does your occupation involve desk based-work, either in an office or a work from home set-up? Are you getting aches and pains during your work day? 

It is vital for our musculoskeletal health that we have the correct set up of our workstation to avoid fatigue, repetitive strain injuries and postural related pain, especially as it is becoming more common for people to work from home.

What is an Ergonomic Assessment?

An objective assessment of employees in a workplace setting that identifies risks that could lead to musculoskeletal disorders. 

Self Checklist To Improve Your Ergonomic Desk Set Up 

Sitting Posture at a Desk:

Legs/Feet:

  • Feet flat on ground or flat on a raised footrest.
  • Knees horizontally in line with hips or slightly below.
  • Feet directly below knees or slightly in front.
  • Back of knees not touching the base of chair (if so chair may be too big for you)

Back/Neck:

  • Sit as far back in chair as possible
  • Spine supported through natural curvature of spine.
  • Back needs to be upright or slightly leant backwards.
  • Neck in line with the torso, not craned forwards or turned to one side.

Arms/elbows:

  • Elbows tucked in close by side of body
  • Elbows roughly 90 degree angle
  • Forearms supported by desk
  • Wrists straight as possible, avoid too much extension or sideways bending

Desk Equipment:

  • Screen height: Eye level should be in line with the top ⅓ of the screen
  • Screen distance: At fingertip distance with arms extended straight in front of body
  • Keyboard: At reach of fingertips when elbows bent to 90 degree angle by your sides
  • Double screens:
    • Main screen straight in front and second as close as possible to the side
    • If using both screen equally then both screens next to each other centered
  • Additional frequently used items (drink bottle, phones etc) have within arms reach
  • Lighting: Position desks so not directly under light to reduce glare and reflections

    Additional Equipment That May Be Beneficial:

    • Footrests
    • Monitor stand
    • Standing desks
    • Lumbar roll
    • Standing Desks
    • Ergonomic keyboard
    • Keyboard wrist pad or mouse pads
    • Laptop stand with additional keyboard
    • Document holder
    • Medicine ball 

    Tips To Avoid Repetition:

    Regular breaks: 2-5 minutes every hour taking a break away from the computer to reduce the build up of fatigue. Standing up and moving away from the desk.
    Micropauses: A short stretch/relaxation break whilst staying at your desk or work station, approx. 10 seconds every 10 minutes. These facilitate the relaxation of frequently used muscles and restore blood flow.

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