Ideal Office Workstations

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In the last article, What is an Ergonomic chair?  we looked at the specifications that constitute a good or ergonomic chair. In this article, we will discuss the features of an ideal workstations and how these ergonomic chairs play a role in our workstations to help minimize strain on the musculoskeletal system.

Ideal Workstations for Ergonomics

Height of work table
  • Should ideally be adjustable, at elbow level, to allow the user to sit comfortably on the chair.
  • Adequate legroom for the user to sit as close to the table as possible.
  • In view of this, work tables with keyboard trays are generally not recommended.
Work station surface
  • Should not be reflective. Not advisable to put a glass panel over the desk as it causes reflection and hence, glare.
  • Should also be large enough to allow for flexible arrangement of stationery and equipment without causing clutter.
  • Workstations should not be placed near a source of glare. For example, having a window without blinds next to your workstations will cause too much glare. This will be made even worse if you are seated next to a mirror or glass panel.
  • The lighting used should be a combination of warm and white light. Naked fluorescent tubes will cause too much glare and should be covered.
  • Ideally, the workstations should be positioned between 2 light sources on either side of the table.

Ergonomic Chair

Having discussed the key features of ideal workstations, let us now look at how to optimally use the ergonomic chair in our workstation.

Ergonomic chairs are designed to fit the shortest female to the tallest male in the targeted demographic group. Below are some tips on using the ergonomic chair:

Tips For An Ergonomic Chair

Features Notes
Back Rest The user should be able to sit against the backrest with comfort and still have about 2’’ between the edge of the seat to the back of the knees. If this is not possible, adjust the seat depth accordingly.
Height of chair Should be such that when the user’s back is supported, the feet are flat on the ground and the height of the table should be at elbow level. If the table is not adjustable, it is important to have the table at elbow height. If this means that the feet are no longer supported on the ground, a footstool is then required.
Tilt-angle of the chair Traditionally, most people have been advised to seat at 90’, i.e. with the back upright. Current research shows that if the back is tilted at 100 to 130 degrees, the muscle activation in the lower back, as well as disc loading, falls dramatically. However, the lower the tilt, the more neck and shoulder flexion would be required to do the same work. So, we create a new problem by solving one. What then is the solution? If the user has primarily a back problem, then perhaps, the chair should be tilted at 100 degrees. If the user has primarily a neck problem, then the chair should perhaps be angled at 90? to minimize shoulder and neck strain.
Armrests Should be adjusted downwards or inwards, so that the chair can be pulled in as close to the table as possible to allow the forearm to rest on the table.

Monitor And Keyboard Workstations

The placement of the monitor and keyboard is also important. Poor positioning of the monitor can result in neck pains, headaches and myopia. The screen should be about 30cm away from the user’s eyes and the first line of the computer screen should be at eye level. Raise laptops to avoid excessive neck flexion.

Place the keyboard on the table at a 90° elbow bend. Drop the shoulders and relax them completely. As for laptops, an external keyboard is advisable. Place the mouse close to the body to prevent having the shoulder and arm stretched out.