Most companies have at least some staff in front of a computer all day, while some have legions of employees sitting at computer workstations.
While the job is low-impact and the likelihood of severe injuries is slim, sitting in front of a computer all day long can have detrimental effects, particularly if the employee has a bad posture.
Proper ergonomic form can prevent a host of injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as degenerative lower- and upper-back problems.
To understand the best way to set up a computer workstation, it is helpful to understand the concept of “neutral body positioning.”
This is a comfortable working posture in which your joints are naturally aligned. Working with the body in a neutral position reduces stress and strain on the muscles, tendons and skeletal system and reduces your risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder.
Maintaining a neutral posture
The following are important considerations when attempting to maintain a neutral body posture while sitting at a workstation:
- Hands, wrists and forearms are straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor.
- Head is level, or bent slightly forward, forward facing and balanced. Generally, it is in line with the torso.
- Shoulders are relaxed and upper arms hang normally at the side of the body.
- Elbows stay in close to the body and are bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
- Feet are fully supported by the floor, or a footrest may be used if the desk height is not adjustable.
- Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly.
- Thighs and hips are supported by a well-padded seat and generally parallel to the floor.
- Knees are about the same height as the hips, with the feet slightly forward.
Regardless of how good your working posture is, working in the same posture or sitting still for prolonged periods is not healthy. You should change your working position frequently throughout the day in the following ways:
- Make small adjustments to your chair or backrest.
- Stretch your fingers, hands, arms and torso.
- Stand up and walk around for a few minutes periodically.