Creating an Ergonomically Friendly Office

Millions of people spend a large portion of their lives working in an office setting at work, with a computer monitor in front of them, then coming home to work on their home computer both for fun and to accomplish necessary tasks. Though computers have certainly revolutionized the way we accomplish certain tasks, using them for hours and hours each day can have a detrimental effect on your back, neck, shoulders, and wrist/arm. While there is no way to completely avoid the health issues that come with working in an office setting day in and day out there are certain things you can do both at work and in your home office to minimize the damage and leave you feeling substantially better. Ergonomics is the science of designing user interaction with equipment and workplaces to properly fit the user. Ergonomic design, when used correctly can prevent repetitive strain injuries that develop over time and can even lead to long-term disability.

Ergonomics and Safety

Possibly the most compelling reason to consider ergonomics when setting up an office workspace is that ergonomic planning can substantially reduce injuries. We tend to think of injuries in the work place or home office occurring during heavy lifting or from the use of heavy equipment, however even a seemingly harmless task, such as repetitive computer use, can also cause serious injuries. Offices which are not ergonomically equipped can cause fatigue and strain, leading to other injuries. There are some relatively simple equipment that can greatly reduce repetitive stress injuries such as:

· Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be greatly reduced in the workplace with some simple and relatively inexpensive equipment such as wrist rests. Replacing the computer mouse with a track ball or foot switch can also decrease the development of "trigger finger pain," which is pain that shoots up the arm, shoulders and neck.

· Anti-fatigue mats added to standing work areas can greatly reduce the strain placed on feet, legs, and back, and can also protect against slip and fall injuries. While this is probably not an issue in your home office, it can be a great help at the office if you stand for long periods of time.

Reducing Back Pain

Your workplace chair could be one of the most important pieces of ergonomically correct furniture in your office. When purchasing a chair, consider the following:

· Make sure the chair has a pneumatic adjustment lever to correctly adjust the seat height, allowing your feet to be flat on the floor, thighs horizontal and arms even with the desk height. The depth of the chair needs to be enough so you can sit with your back against the backrest, leaving 2-4 inches between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair. Your chair should have a forward and backward seat tilt adjustment and sufficient lumbar support to enable you to fit the inward curve of the lower back. The backrest should be 12-19" wide, and able to support the natural curve of the spine. The material on your office chair seat and back should have sufficient padding to make it comfortable to sit on for long periods of time, and the armrests should be fully adjustable, allowing your elbows and lower arms to rest lightly, with the forearm not resting at all. An ergonomically correct office chair can substantially reduce back, neck and shoulder pain, leaving you less fatigued at the end of the day.

Ergonomics Can Increase Productivity

An ergonomic office can both streamline everyday operations and improve the functionality, allowing you to work much more efficiently. If you explain to your boss that you working more efficiently adds to his financial bottom line, then perhaps buying an ergonomic chair or wrist rest may not seem like such a burden to him. If ergonomics in your home office allow more efficiency and less pain, leaving you more quality time with your family, where's the downside? There are many more small changes you can make in order to decrease your pain and stress, and increase your productivity, however each small change can render huge rewards.