Ergonomics in the Workplace: improve comfort, safety and energy levels

Posted on March 4, 2010 by Frankye Robinson

Do your wrists, back and head ache at the end of the day? Do you run out of energy mid-afternoon? Improve your comfort and energy level by employing the science ergonomics in the workplace. Office ergonomics is the science of designing equipment and shaping the environment to fit the needs of the worker. There are two elements in every office that can be improved with the thoughtful application of office ergonomics: 

The office chair: these days, almost every chair is marketed as "ergonomic." We show you what to look for in an ergonomic desk chair.
The office workstation: we show which styles offer the best ergonomics in the workplace, and how to arrange your equipment.
A guide to ergonomics in the workplace

The right computer chairs improve ergonomics in the workplace.

Office chairs are available with a range of adjustable features. We offer an in-depth look at the most common in our ergonomic desk chair guide, but at a minimum, a good ergonomic chair will offer:

Pneumatic Height Adjustment

Pneumatic Seat Height Adjustment Raises or lowers the chair as needed to keep your knees at a 90° angle and your feet on the floor.

Seat Depth Adjustment

Ergonomic Desk Chair Feature: Seat Depth Adjustment Adjusts so your back rests flush against the chair back with 1-2" between your knees and seat edge.

Lumbar Support

Ergonomci Desk Chair Feature- Lumbar Support Contoured chair backs or adjustable pads provide lower back (lumbar) support.

Recline Mechanism

Allows chair to tilt back for a relaxed posture.

Ergonomic Desk Chair Accessories

Back Support Cushions Not ready to invest in a brand new chair? Inexpensive back support cushions can add lumbar support, raise chair height or improve circulation.
Adjustable Foot Rest Office chair too tall or prefer feet to rest at an angle? Try an adjustable footrest.

Recommended Ergonomic Desk Chairs

Alera® Epoch Series Fabric Mesh Multifunction Chair
Alera®  Mesh Office Chair
HON® ComforTask® Task Chair
HON® Task Chair

Upgrade your office desk to your office ergonomics.

There are three types of office desks, each with varying levels of ergonomic benefit.

Traditional Office Desks

Traditional desks generally provide more work and storage space, but undermine office ergonomics by encouraging workers to sit too long. It's important to get up from your desk periodically. Sitting too long cause poor circulation, puts tremendous pressure on the spine and muscles in the lower back, and is just plain uncomfortable. Recent research suggests that sitting too long can even kill you! A 15 minute break from your desk every couple of hours to gets the blood flowing and rejuvenates the mind and body.

Recommended Ergonomic Office Desks

Alera® Single Pedestal Steel Desk
Alera® Steel Office Desk
Bush® Series C Rectangular Desk
Bush® Office Desk

Standing Workstations

Standing computer desks are a great tool for improving office ergonomics. They eliminate the dangers associated with sitting too long and provide another benefit as well -- they can help you lose weight. You burn about 60 calories an hour sitting at your desk. Switch to a standing computer desk and that number jumps to 100.

Recomended Standing Computer Workstations

Safco® Adjustable Height Stand-Up Workstation
Safco® Stand-Up Workstation

BALT® Web A/V Stand-Up Workstation
BALT® Stand-Up Workstation

Sit/Stand Computer Desks

While standing desks offer tremendous ergonomic benefit, standing all day can cause fatigue and stresses the hips, knees and feet. Sit/stand computer desks easily adjust from traditional to standing desk heights , so you don't have to spend too long sitting or standing.

Recommended Sit / Standing Computer Desks

Mayline® Soho™ Adjustable Mobile Computer Table
Mayline® Adjustable Computer Table
BALT® Ergo Sit/Stand Workstation
BALT® Ergo Sit/Stand Workstation

Configure your worksation to optimal office ergonomics.

Whether you work at a conventional office desk or a standing computer desk, it's important to correctly position your monitor and keyboard to get get the most ergonomic benefit.

Keyboard Position

Keyboad Platforms

Keep your arms at a 90º angle when you use your keyboard. Sitting, that's right about at your lap. Angle the keyboard slightly down and away from your body. Keyboard trays help accomplish this. Check out our keyboard tray buying guide for more info on keyboard platforms.

Screen Position

Monitor Stand

Position your computer monitor at eye-level and at arm's length. A monitor stand can help you position your screen at the right height. If arm-length is too far away for you to see your screen clearly, increase the size of the text and icons.


Telephone Headsets

Telephone headsets  un-tether you from your desk and free up your hands. Plus, with a headset, you don't have to lean to answer and talk on your phone. Our headset buying guide offers tips on choosing the best headset for your office.


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