In a healthy work environment, offices are set up properly with the idea of keeping their employees comfortable and safe, but with Covid-19 restrictions many people have to work remotely at home, so how do you make sure ergonomics aren’t forgotten?
Some locked-down workers (and those usually working from home) risk musculoskeletal injury and their mental health by not using an office chair for home office ergonomics. Instead, they work on laptop computer screens while sitting on sofas, at kitchen tables, or the dining room table. This can lead to bad backs, eye strain, neck and joint pain and headache, affecting your body.
Corporate Work Health’s team can visit to check on your work-from-home ergonomics and prepare a health and safety checklist and risk assessment. We provide a report for your company’s management records, and have helped many sole traders, freelancers and remote workers avoid musculoskeletal injuries.
Read on for some tips that may help you (*).
Set Up a Home Ergonomic Work Space
Working remotely while sitting on sofas or at dining room tables sounds comfortable but after a while working without suitable ergonomics and sitting awkwardly for prolonged periods you might have leg and back pain. Setting up an ergonomic workspace means adopting a comfortable and supported position at your ‘desk’ or kitchen table.
Start With Your Desk
Setting up an ergonomic home office is easier if you have a proper office chair and desk, even a standing desk (that doesn’t come without risks, either). If you don’t, and not everyone has one, here are some tips:
Your desk height
When setting up your home office workspace, pay attention to your knees, thighs and feet. They should fit comfortably beneath the desk or table. Your knees shouldn’t knock up against the desk, and you shouldn’t have to squeeze your legs in to fit. Getting the right height of your desk and computer screen is important.
Setting up Your Computer Equipment
Monitor placement and distance
The top of the computer screen in your home office should be at or just below eye level. Looking at the centre of your computer monitor screen, your eyes should be focused slightly down, your neck straight and the top third of the screen is easy to see. Adjust the screen if you are bending your neck up or down. Your computer screen, (if it’s a normal size) should be at least an arm’s length away so the whole screen is visible without needing to move your head from right to left. Larger monitors may need to be further away. Your keyboard should be flat and wrists straight, and shoulders relaxed.
If you use multiple monitors in your home office when working from home: For one monitor, place it in front of you. Two screens should go beside each other with no gap, and if you use them both equally they should meet in the centre of your line of sight. If one is used more than the other, place the dominant screen directly in front and secondary screen to the side. If you have three screens, place the main monitor in the centre and the others on each side, with no gap and slightly inwards.
The laptop screen
A laptop on its own isn’t good for working from home for prolonged periods. But if it’s all you have, then use the recommended ergonomic monitor and desk setup. Prop the laptop up with a book so the top of the screen is at eye-level. This does make typing harder, so an external keyboard and mouse will help if working for long periods.
If you need to reduce glare, angle the computer monitor screen with the top pushed away from you. Another important thing to avoid is direct light hitting the monitor. The harsh glare can lead to eye strain.
If you have an adjustable office chair you’re well on the way to sitting pretty, but you still have to ensure it’s adjusted properly for your own health. And if you don’t have an ergonomically sound office chair there are many ways to make your dining or kitchen chair work.
Office chairs need to support the spine’s, so do this: As you sit, plant your feet flat on the floor and sit evenly on your buttocks with your thighs parallel to the ground without any tilting of your bottom to either side. Then adjust your arms to the right height for the keyboard. If your feet don’t touch the floor, use a footrest. To support the body, try putting a small pillow or rolled-up towel in the small of your back.
Corporate Work Health Australia, founded by physiotherapist Wade Brennan, and osteopath Heath Williams have a team of health experts ranging from osteopaths and physiotherapists to Yoga and Pilates instructors who provide excellent assessments. We help your corporate environment to provide employees with the best ergonomics at work and at home. Call us today for an assessment.
* Be aware that this article is only a guide and is not intended as health advice.