Meet Bella and Richard. They share an office. (Disclaimer: Richard is my husband.) Bella is 1.90m tall with heels, which she wears ninety nine per cent of the time, even to the beach! Bella is height proud and has terrific postural awareness. She is a model. Oops! I meant to say she is a model of good habits and correct posture at her workstation.
Richard is 1.70. His posture and positioning at his workstation leave a lot of room for improvement. Bella moved into Richard’s space when she discovered it was the only room in the company’s office with a desk 3 cm higher than the standard.
Bella is only at her desk two or three hours a day. Richard is at his desk more than twice that amount of time.
Bella has internalized the concept of the adjustable work station. Richard is not there yet.
Adjusted for Height
Bella has chosen a desk which is 76.5 cm high so she is off to a good start. She has moved her monitor into the corner of her desk. When I suggest that this forces her to turn her neck slightly, she points out that she has done this to provide more desk depth as her desk (70cm deep) didn’t allow her enough distance from her eyes to the monitor. Since she has no neck pain, this accommodation makes sense for her. Her chair does not have adjustable armrests so she has moved herself closer to the corner and pushed her keyboard towards the back of the desk in order to rest her forearms on the table. As is common with people who are very tall, Bella is sitting with two feet squarely on the ground in front of her. Great set up, but when I point out that she is leaning over in order to rest her right arm on the desk, she replies that she is leaning because her dress is too tight to allow her to sit straight. Tough to argue with that.
Too Much Clutter. Too Few Adjustments
Richard’s desk is a standard 73 cm high. He works with a desktop and a laptop simultaneously, His chair has no armrests and he has positioned his keyboard at the front of his desk leaving himself no place anywhere to support his forearms. He is resting his wrists on the edge of the desk which can create a lot of pressure and even cause carpal tunnel syndrome. On the other hand, the fact that his wrists are supported takes pressure off his shoulder and neck.
The back of Richard’s chair is unlocked and the reclining position is not helping his natural inclination to slump forward in the chair. (More on this topic elsewhere).
Why is Bella’s pink handbag cluttering up Richard’s desk?
Protect your Neck
The downward twist of Richard’s neck when looking at his laptop screen is problematic. Richard was seeing a chiropractor for several months last year for neck pain and a frozen shoulder. This type of twisting at the neck cannot be helpful. He needs a riser for his laptop to bring the top of the screen just below his eye level.
Workstations should be Adjustable
The contrast between these two is pretty extreme. But the message is the same for everybody. Workstations should be adjustable to allow for users of different heights and sizes. In addition, awareness of correct posture and positioning is necessary to prevent musculoskeletal injuries.
Final Ergonomic Score:
Richard: Investigate Further and Change Soon