Changing your workplace into a safe, comfortable and productive environment can begin with ergonomics. If you understand how a product, layout or design can be improved to suit those that use it, you can create a positive and admirable workplace. Effective ergonomics is not only beneficial for productivity and employee engagement, but it is critical in reducing pain and fatigue among office workers.

1. Rest your eyes

Throughout your working day, your eyes are constantly working hard. Without the correct care, it can result in serious eye strain and fatigue; in order to prevent this, it is important to give your eyes a break every so often. It is suggested to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes. Another handy way to reduce eyestrain is to ensure that your monitor is not positioned in front of a window, as this can cause a screen glare.

2. Posture

Slouching can temporarily feel more comfortable than sitting upright, this can however, increase back disc pressure and cause long-term back conditions as a result. To ensure you are sitting with good posture, it’s beneficial to invest in a good office chair with lumbar support which will support your back. A standing desk can help improve posture, as it helps you avoid slouching.


3. Position your arms correctly

Sitting too far away from your mouse and keyboard can result in unnecessary reaching. When you stretch to type it can cause the muscles in your neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists and hands to suffer. To ensure these areas don’t become fatigued, make sure your arms are supported at all times and your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Office chairs with armrests are ideal, meaning you can comfortably rest your arms to prevent them from feeling heavy.

4. Keep moving

Maintaining the same posture for long periods of time can leave us feeling lazy and fatigued which can be detrimental on productivity levels. Taking breaks by standing up, walking around and stretching can help us feel more energised, helping kick-start the body’s circulatory system. Not changing positions throughout the day can lead to slouching and cause more problems in the long run.


5. Don’t let your feet dangle

Letting your feet dangle can put excess strain on your leg muscles. If you are shorter, decrease the height of your chair so that your feet are flat on the ground - and remember to ensure your weight is balanced equally between the ball and heel of your foot. If your seat isn’t adjustable or decreasing the height of your chair means your desk is too high, ask your manager for a footrest.

6. Position your monitor correctly

Your monitor should be directly in front of you and the top of the monitor should be no higher than eye level, and at least be an arm’s length away to reduce the chance of visual strain. Avoid leaning in to read things on your monitor, as this can be harmful to your back. If you find yourself doing this; increasing the text size on your screen may help.


7. Keyboard

While using your keyboard, your wrists should be straight and your shoulders should be in a neutral position. Remember to avoid resting your wrists while typing to prevent compression (reducing your risk of Carpal tunnel and other wrist disorders.). If you have to extend your wrists when typing, lower the legs on the keyboard which should help reduce fatigue of your wrist muscles.


8. Mouse

Working at a computer all day can mean you spend a lot of your time using a computer mouse, which can increase wrist/hand exhaustion and pain throughout the day. To avoid this type of muscle fatigue; make sure you keep your wrist straight and use your elbow as a pivot point to move the mouse, also making sure not to grip the mouse too tightly. Regular wrist exercises can help reduce the risk of Carpal tunnel syndrome.

9. Environmental Setting

The office environment can often be overlooked when discussing ergonomics, but it can be highly influential for staff productivity and alertness. Even though finding a temperature to suit everyone in the office can be tricky, it has been found that the best temperature to keep the office is 22°c. If an office is too warm, it can cause employees to feel sleepy and lethargic. Lighting should not cause glares off walls, screens or windows, which can be avoided with blinds, matt paint and monitor position. Employees working with natural light feel more energised and alert compared to employees working in offices with artificial lighting.


10. Use a headset

If you use the phone whilst you work, then it might be a good idea to invest in a headset, as holding the phone in-between your neck and shoulder can be very uncomfortable and take a toll on your neck muscles.

Written by Becky Morris, on behalf of Cardinus US; leading health, safety and risk management specialists offering online and onsite business solutions. Cardinus provide compliance solutions for office ergonomics - in partnership with the Health & Safety Laboratory.