Workstation Ergonomics: Keyboard and Computer Use

Back view of a businessman using a monitor in his officeCreating a good ergonomic working arrangement is important to protecting your health. Below, are steps 8 through 10 that most Ergonomists agree are important to improve your working arrangement.

8. Keep it close!

  • Make sure that those things the user uses most frequently are placed closest to the user so that they can be conveniently and comfortably reached.
  • Make sure that the user is centered on the alphanumeric keyboard. Most modern keyboards are asymmetrical in design (the alphanumeric keyboard is to the left and a numeric keypad to the right). If the outer edges of the keyboard are used as landmarks for centering the keyboard and monitor, the users hands will be deviated because the alphanumeric keys will be to the left of the user's midline. Move the keyboard so that the center of the alphanumeric keys (the B key, is centered on the mid-line of the user).
  • Make sure that the phone is also close to you if you frequently use it.

9. A good workstation ergonomic arrangement will allow any computer user to work in a neutral, relaxed, ideal typing posture that will minimize the risk of developing any injury. An ideal keyboard arrangement is to place this on a height adjustable negative-tilt tray. An ideal mouse arrangement is for this to be on a flat surface that's 1-2 inches above the keyboard and moveable over the numeric keypad. If you want a surface at the level of the keyboard base then make sure that this can also be angled downwards slightly to help to keep your hands in wrist neutral while you are mousing, and keep your elbow is as close to the body as possible while you work.

10. Where will the computer be used?
Think about the following environmental conditions where the computer will be used:

  • Lighting - make sure that the lighting isn't too bright. You shouldn't see any bright light glare on the computer screen. If you do, move the screen, lower the light level, use a good quality, glass anti-glare screen. Also make sure that the computer monitor screen isn't backed to a bright window or facing a bright window so that there's the screen looks washed out (use a shade or drapes to control window brightness).
  • Ventilation - make sure that you use your computer somewhere that has adequate fresh-air ventilation and that has adequate heating or cooling so that you feel comfortable when you're working.
  • Noise - noise can cause stress and that tenses your muscles which can increase injury risks. Try to choose a quiet place for your workstation, and use low volume music, preferably light classical, to mask the hum of any fans or other sound sources.

The above steps give a brief summary of good ergonomic design practice for computer workstations, but there's lots more to consider. You can read about ergonomics in many books, you can browse other materials on the CUErgo web site, you can get information from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

Updated on: 06/14/16
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