If you’re uncomfortable after working at your desk, you understand how your working environment impacts your physical well-being. Poor workplace ergonomics can lead to pain, injury, fatigue and decreased productivity.
Here are office ergonomic tips for a safe and comfortable workplace.
Ergonomic safety tips for working at your desk
Prevent work injuries with these computer ergonomic tips and home ergonomics tips.
Chair for spine support
A supportive office chair helps you maintain good posture and alignment. Look for one with:
- Adjustable height
- Lumbar support
When seated, you should be able to maintain a straight back with thighs parallel to the floor and feet on the floor or a footrest.
Keyboard & wrist alignment
Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees when typing, and position your keyboard, so your wrists align with your elbows. If your chair has armrests, use them to support proper arm placement.
Correct head position
Check in periodically to ensure your head is aligned with your neck and not jutted forward, pulled back or turned to either side. Keep your computer and documents in front of you at eye level.
Use a footrest
Keep your feet firmly placed on the floor to help you maintain good posture. If your feet don’t reach the floor when seated, invest in a footrest or upcycle a sturdy box to keep your lower body properly aligned.
Wear a phone headset
Cradling a phone against your shoulder can lead to neck, shoulder and back strain. A headset, earbuds or speakerphones are safer, hands-free choices.
Your computer’s position and settings can also help or hinder your comfort at work. Here are additional ergonomic tips for computer users.
Monitors at eye level
The ideal placement for monitors and screens is level with your eyes when sitting up straight. If you use a laptop, elevate it on a laptop stand or adjust the height of your desk to bring your screen to eye level.
Reaching places strain on your body. Keep essentials within reach and scoot your chair in so you’re not reaching for your computer. When something is out of reach, stand up to retrieve it.
Avoid a bright background behind computer
Avoid placing your computer in front of or opposite a window, which strains the eyes. The ideal computer location reduces glare. Position your computer against a wall or next to a window for the most comfortable viewing.
Customize your computer
Computer display settings can contribute to eye fatigue. Choose a font size that’s easy to read, zoom in or out as needed and make sure your monitor’s brightness isn’t too bright or dark relative to your environment.
Lifestyle behaviors play a big role
In addition to these ergonomic tips, some lifestyle habits help support a pain-free body.
Regular stretching helps keep muscles and joints flexible, improves posture and counteracts tightness from being in one position too long.
Try stretching at the start and end of your workday. If you can, incorporate stretch breaks into your day to get a break from sitting and repetitive motions.
Aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, swimming and dancing, can help strengthen muscles, improve posture and combat the risks of a sedentary job.
Research has found yoga to be highly beneficial for pain relief. Yoga helps strengthen and stretch muscles and can be modified to all fitness levels.
Be mindful of desk injuries
Most desk-related injuries are musculoskeletal disorders characterized by pain and changes to mobility. Carpal tunnel syndrome and back or neck pain are typical examples that can be caused or worsened by poor working ergonomics.
Carpal tunnel injuries result from excess pressure on the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand. Keeping your wrists bent at an angle increases your risk for carpal tunnel.
Symptoms tend to occur at night and include:
- Fingers feel puffy
- Hand weakness
- Numb or tingly fingers
Back or neck pain
There are many causes of back and neck pain, but poor posture is a contributing factor for most people. Slouching or hunching forward puts pressure on your spine and causes muscles to work harder.
Back and neck pain may feel dull or sharp. Other symptoms include:
- Arm or leg numbness
- Shoulder pain and/or stiffness
- Stiffness along the spine
Visit urgent care if experiencing pain
If you need help assessing and treating pain related to your work setup, come see the experts at one of our urgent care locations. You can walk in, or save your spot online. We’ll have you back to feeling better in no time.
- Princeton University. Ergonomics & Computer Use. Accessed: January 25, 2023. https://uhs.princeton.edu/health-resources/ergonomics-computer-use
- 2015. Harvard Health Publishing. Yoga for Pain Relief. Accessed: January 25, 2023. https://www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-integrative-health/yoga-for-pain-relief
- 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics. Accessed: January 25, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/health-strategies/musculoskeletal-disorders/index.html
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet. Accessed: January 25, 2023. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-fact-sheet
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. Back and Neck Pain. Accessed: January 25, 2023.https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/back-pain