OFFICE ERGONOMICS: WHAT TOOLS SHOULD BE ADOPTED TO AVOID MSDs ?
Our sedentary lifestyles and work habits lead to a major health problem: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), serious back problems, overweight, poor posture habits, etc. Many of these health concerns are the result of a lack of workplace ergonomics, where people often work more than seven hours a day. While many specialists are sounding the alarm about the consequences of physical inactivity, these problems can be avoided simply by reorganizing your workspace and installing simple ergonomic solutions.
Make your workstation more ergonomic
Several factors must be taken into account when optimizing your workspace and making it more ergonomic. It is important to first analyse how we work: are we sitting most of the time or are we standing up to work? Can our desk be adjusted in height? How many adjustment levels does our seat have? Where do we place our mouse and keyboard in relation to the screen? Do we use paper documents? Can the screen be adjusted? These questions are the keys to a good reorganization, and can initially and without additional equipment, relieve some pain.
We will therefore discuss the following recommendations:
- The right seat adjustment
- The use of ergonomic accessories such as mice or document holders
- The screen setting
Optimize the ergonomics of your workstation with a few tips!
While the layout of ergonomic work equipment remains the best way to avoid the appearance of MSDs such as back pain, neck pain, tendinitis, etc., it is nevertheless possible to protect yourself from them thanks to simple habits to be adopted and a slight reorganization of your workstation.
A workstation is generally composed of a chair, a desk and computer accessories such as a mouse, keyboard and screen. The adjustment of all these elements must be taken into account in order to optimize its installation and reach a neutral position.
1. Seat adjustments:
Start by sitting at the bottom of your seat, then adjust the height of the seat so that it allows you to keep your feet flat on the floor, while providing an angle of about 90 degrees to the knee joint.
Once you have found the correct seat height, adjust the height and spacing of the armrests so that your arms are relaxed and close to your body. If your seat does not have armrests or if they are not adjustable to your body shape, move your seat closer to your desk and rest your arms on the work surface. Your shoulders should be relaxed, not too high or too low, so as not to strain your neck and avoid any discomfort and pain in this area.
Then get closer to your desk, and if possible, adjust the height of your desk so that your arms can rest on the work surface while remaining on your armrests. If the height of your work surface cannot be changed, increase the seat height of your seat and place a footrest to keep the knee opening at a 90 degree angle.
2. Ergonomic accessories to relieve pain areas:
The ergonomic layout of your office can also be improved by adding some inexpensive but posturally beneficial accessories. Placing a document holder between the screen and the keyboard, for example, allows you to have the documents directly in your viewing area. This greatly reduces the stress on the cervicals and reduces visual fatigue.
In the same way, choosing a mouse adapted to your hand, its potential health problems and its type of tasks reduces the risk of developing MSDs on the wrist, arm, elbow, and shoulder.
Take the time to think about your use of the mouse: how much time do you use it per day? For which IT tasks? What functions are essential to you? Do you have any pain or pathologies directly related to the use of your mouse? Many ergonomic mouse models can be implemented to address these factors, such as vertical mice, semi-vertical mice, or central pointers. While a vertical mouse will release the wrist and avoid pressure and friction from the work surface on the wrist, a central pointer provides a better distribution of work on both hands and limits one-handed use. An arm support can also help to limit wrist breakage during impact and related friction.
Finally, workstation ergonomics can be improved by making simple adjustments on your monitor. If not properly adjusted, a screen can cause trauma and pain to the neck, shoulders and back, forcing the user to adopt a posture that is too demanding over time.
Except when wearing progressive glasses, it is recommended to slightly increase the height of the screen so that, once seated straight at the workstation, the user’s gaze reaches the top of the screen. The neck posture is then neutral and no longer causes pain. This simple adjustment can be done by installing a screen support arm, or simply by raising the screen with a ream of paper for example. In addition, it will reduce signs of visual fatigue such as tingling, dryness and redness of dry eyes, as well as headaches.
To go further
If properly implemented, these recommendations will help prevent the development of MSDs and relieve temporary pain in the cervical, back and wrist areas. However, it is important to note that the best way to fight sedentary lifestyles is to move as much as possible, alternating sitting and standing postures, but also taking regular breaks, whether for coffee, making a call or going to the photocopier.