Those who work from home have an obligation to themselves to be comfortable throughout the day. Therefore, an ergonomic assessment of the workstation is essential. Most people wonder to themselves, ‘what is an ergonomic assessment?’ We’re going to discuss ergonomics at length and help you create a workstation ergonomic evaluation that you can use periodically to ensure that your desk and chair are appropriate for your job.
What Is an Ergonomic Assessment?
What is an ergonomic assessment? It’s a question that most people ask, especially when they start working at home. A workplace ergonomic assessment measures all the risk factors in the work environment that could cause musculoskeletal injuries or disorders.
The goal for any workstation ergonomic evaluation is to identify those risk factors and find ways to fix them. Often, this takes time, as you need to purchase ergonomic equipment. Working at home means you’re buying all this out of pocket. However, you can possibly get a tax credit if you keep the receipts and prove that those items are only used for work purposes.
Why Do You Need a Workstation Ergonomic Evaluation?
While you don’t have to pay someone to perform an ergonomic assessment of the workstation, it is important to do this on your own. What is an ergonomic assessment? You can create a checklist to ensure that all aspects of the workspace are comfortable so that you stand and sit up straight.
A workplace ergonomic assessment can reduce pain, help you be more productive, and focus better on the task at hand.
What Is Included in an Ergonomic Assessment of the Workstation?
Everything in the home office that you use for work should be ergonomically-correct. This includes your keyboard, mouse, computer height, desk, and chair. We’re going to discuss each of these aspects and many others. That way, we fully answer your question of what an ergonomic assessment is.
1. Mouse and Keyboard
Most people aren’t aware that the mouse and keyboard are part of the ergonomic assessment of the workstation.
An ergonomic keyboard is usually shaped differently. Some of them are in a wave pattern, while others have a curve at the bottom or top. This reduces muscle strain in the hands and wrists. Sometimes, the keys are broken up in the middle and shaped somewhat like a ‘V’ to allow the hands to type at slight angles, which is more natural.
Generally, mice are more rounded at the top so that the palm sits on it. You use the fingers to click it and perform the actions on your computer. However, ergonomic mice are vertical, keeping your hand in a handshake position to relieve stress and prevent thumb pain.
Now that you have the right tools, you should ensure that the work surface, keyboard, and mouse are at elbow level as you sit or stand. Some keyboards allow you to adjust the height on them. If not, you can raise/lower the workstation or chair.
Your workplace ergonomic assessment should also take into consideration what you use most frequently. Keep those things closer to you so that you don’t have to reach for them.
It’s also important for your keyboard to sit close to the desk’s edge so that the wrists can rest on the surface. Your workstation ergonomic evaluation should factor this in for spacing requirements. An alternative is to buy a keyboard with a built-in wrist-rest. Still, you should keep the keyboard close to the edge for comfort and ergonomics.
2. The Work Surface
Your workplace ergonomic assessment should focus on the work surface or desk. It’s often better to have one designed for computer usage. The monitor should be positioned appropriately and be an arm’s length away from you. Sometimes, its location can change based on the fonts you use, screen resolution, and your vision.
Make sure the monitor is at a height that’s right below eye level. You may have to adjust it, the desk, or the chair to achieve this.
During your ergonomic assessment of the workstation, make sure you have proper lighting to write, read, and use the computer. This ensures that you don’t get eye strain from working too hard.
Typically, people prefer standing desks when working at home. That way, you can change between sitting and standing to continue working without hurting your back.
3. Accessories for Ergonomic Workstation
Your ergonomic assessment of the workstation isn’t complete until you check out the accessories you require throughout the day. Do you frequently write or read while working? This means getting a sloped desk surface to keep your spine in alignment regardless of the task.
During the workstation ergonomic evaluation, make sure that you have a document holder. If you are doing data entry or rewriting what’s on the page, you should position this accessory beside the screen. That way, it’s in your peripheral vision, and you don’t have to look down or much to the side. The same applies to a dual monitor system. Make sure it’s close to the screen you’re working on, so you’re not turning your neck excessively.
One thing many people do wrong is to hold the phone between their ear and shoulder. This puts added stress on one side of the neck, back, and shoulders. It’s more pronounced when you’re typing or writing. Instead, use a speakerphone or headset, or try not to type and talk simultaneously.
4. The Office Chair
Your office chair is probably the most important piece of equipment and should be included in the workplace ergonomic assessment. Don’t skimp on this item, as it is what you are going to use most of the day. Pair it with a standing desk for the best results.
The ergonomic assessment of the workstation means you might need to buy a new chair. Of course, the ErgoChair Pro is fully customizable and has proper lumbar support. You’re going to prevent back pain and can even improve your sitting posture.
Many people wonder how long an office chair can last. It depends on the materials used, but you should also consider comfort. Some people enjoy leather, while others think it is too hot in the summer.
There are multiple parts of an office chair, and you should pay close attention to them during the ergonomic assessment of the workstation. They include:
- Headrest – an ergonomic chair should allow you to adjust the tilt and height of your headrest.
- Seat – The part you sit on should be comfortable and cushioned. Ergonomic chairs have a tilting seat and allow you to move it forward.
- Back tilt – There may come times where you want to lean back. The back tilt angle should keep the spine in alignment. Make sure there’s a bar at the back to make it safe and reduce the stress on the chair.
- Hand/armrest – The armrests should be adjustable so that you can change the height and move them forward/backward as needed.
- Lumbar support – Your workplace ergonomic assessment should focus on the lower back when you’re sitting. Choose a chair where you can adjust the support level as necessary.
5. Your Laptop/Computer
We talked earlier about your workstation and how to set it up, but the laptop or computer you use needs its own section. Your workstation ergonomic evaluation must focus on the positioning of the computer.
Most laptops aren’t ergonomically correct, but that doesn’t mean you have to swap it out for a computer tower. Consider buying a separate keyboard and mouse if you type often.
Another issue with laptops is that they often sit too low on the desk. You can adjust the chair, but this usually puts your legs and back in a compromised position. A way around this is to use a laptop stand to raise it up higher. However, that might put more stress on the arms and hands, as well.
Typically, the best way to avoid these issues is to use a stand to get the right height. Also, set the laptop as far away from the front edge of the desk as you can. Then, you have enough room to place the extra keyboard in front of it.
There might be times where you must work at a coffee shop or a restaurant with free WiFi, such as when your internet goes down at home. Laptops are versatile, but they can cause wrist and hand problems. If it isn’t feasible to take your extra keyboard and stand with you, try to find a table that sits high enough for you to type with your elbows by your sides.
6. Breaks and Standing Desks
Part of the workplace ergonomic assessment should include how often you take breaks. Sitting for long periods is bad for your health. It can also cause pain in the hips and low back. A way around this is to use a standing desk. Consider standing and sitting for 30 minutes at a time for the best results.
You should also give your eyes a break. Working at the computer for extended periods causes eye strain. Consider having a picture or photo on the opposite wall. Look away from the screen every 30 minutes and focus on the image for a minute or so.
Pros and Cons of a Workstation Ergonomic Evaluation
Workstation Ergonomic Evaluation
- Lower risk of back pain and musculoskeletal disorders
- Save money because you’re not going to the doctor all the time
- Be able to work for longer periods in comfort
- Stay focused
- Be more productive
- Initial cost of buying ergonomic items
- Having to be mindful all the time of proper spinal positioning
- Taking time to set up the ergonomic chair and standing desk
A complete ergonomic assessment of the workstation in your home is essential. You’ve got to protect your body so that you can continue working. When the desk isn’t set up correctly, you run the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues. We’ve discussed many ways to check your equipment and what to buy to ensure that your body is protected. What is an ergonomic assessment? It’s the checklist that you use to protect yourself while working.
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