By Janet DeLapp, MS, CDMS, CPDM, CPE and Matt Copeland, BS, CEOE
Have you been using a computer for a long period of time? Chances are yes in this digital world that we all live in. But how does that mouse treat you after you’ve been working for a while? Do you feel discomfort in the wrist, elbow, or shoulder? Chances are you are not using a device designed with ergonomics in mind.
What makes something ergonomic?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ergonomics as, “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”. In this case, designing a device to fit a person properly would be ergonomic. So, what makes a device ergonomic? There are two simple points to consider when riddling whether your device is ergonomic or not: proper fit and placement/posture.
Proper fit: If your device is too big or too small for you, it’s not an ergonomic solution. If your device is too big, then you’re likely engaging the muscles of your hands and arm far more than necessary. Likewise, if your device is too small, you’re likely putting yourself into an awkward posture by holding your hand or fingers precariously to get enough hand/finger real estate on the device to use it.
Placement/Posture: Both are very important and both inform the other. Posture can be tricky as most all of us have developed our normal posture and departing from it can be difficult. Proper ergonomic or “neutral” posture goes like this. Your shoulders should be relaxed with your elbows by your side and bent about 90 degrees. Your wrists should be straight and not bent up or down or in or out. If your device is too far left or right, you are likely causing undue work for your shoulder. If it is too far forward or too close, you may start feeling it from the shoulder all the way to the wrist after extended periods of use.
If it doesn’t fit your hand and you can’t use it without straining your arm or shoulder, it’s probably not the right one, it is not in the correct position, or both. Be sure to consult with your Office Admin or Manager to see about ordering the proper tools and perhaps contacting an expert for a workplace ergonomics assessment.
Hopefully these ergonomics tips can help keep your workplace a safe work place. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.
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