We spend about $1 billion a week in the United States on preventable work-related injuries. And we’re not just talking about slip/falls here. We’re talking strained backs, necks, and shoulders from poor office ergonomics.
Physical therapy costs anywhere from $75-150 without insurance coverage. Most insurance will only cover so much. Wouldn’t you rather invest that money somewhere else?
Most office-related injuries are preventable. If you’re working from home, those injuries are entirely your fault. You can’t collect worker’s comp for them.
This is why today I’m going to give you a little bit of advice on how to set up an ergonomically sound office.
1. Examine the Height of Your Chair
Before you adjust your chair, be sure you have the right chair. If you’re experiencing pain, you might need to find an office chair for lower back and hip pain. These are already ergonomically designed (meaning they support your spinal curves) and when set up correctly will relieve your pain.
When you sit in an office chair, your feet should be flat on the ground (or on a footrest if you’re short). Be sure your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Your shoulders need to be relaxed. Sit up until they rest on the armrests and your shoulders aren’t tensed up.
2. Keep Things Within Reach
It feels awesome to have a large desk. When someone sits across from you, it feels as if they’re surveying your kingdom. Your kingdom might be harming your health, however.
Why? Because you have to reach for things.
When you’ve been sitting for a time, your muscles become stiff. When you have to suddenly stretch out and reach for something, you risk pulling a muscle.
Keep your most important things such as reports, stapler, phone, pencils, etc within arm’s length. If you do have to grab something from the other side of your desk, stand up, walk around the desk and grab the thing.
3. Follow Keyboard and Mouse Etiquette
If your keyboard is your tool of choice, you might only use your mouse when shifting things around on your screen. It’s tempting to pull your keyboard to your lap and toss your mouse aside somewhere. If you do so, eventually papers and other objects will pile up and block your way to the mouse. You’ll have to stretch over those things to grab your mouse and use it.
Instead, sit up straight, place your keyboard right in front of you with the gap between “G” and “H” at your sternum. Place your mouse right beside the keyboard. This way you can type in the correct posture for your back and reach your mouse with ease.
4. Don’t Use Shoulders as Phone Cradles
If you are constantly talking on the phone and typing, don’t use your shoulder to hold your phone in place. Invest in a good headset or use a speakerphone. Prolonged neck extension will eventually result in injury.
5. Correct Your Desk and Monitor Position
Your neck and shoulders do have a natural position. If they are too stretched, they could cramp up and get injured. If they are too lax, they won’t be strong enough to perform specific tasks such as lifting boxes.
Position both your desk and your monitor to encourage good posture. Your monitor should be directly in front of you. You shouldn’t have to look up or down to read everything on the screen.