The State of Wisconsin Department of Labor and Industries has published a guide entitled "Office Ergonomic Assessment and Implementation Guide" which can be used to help you perform a worksite analysis and includes some recommended solutions to some of the more common ergonomic problems.
The Department of Administration poster entitled "Working Safely With Video Display Terminals" is a quick and easy guide to some common workstation problems and their solutions.
Keyboards should be placed in an optimum location. Many keyboards have angle adjustment tabs. Changing the keyboard angle may contribute to typing comfort as well.
There are a number of ergonomically designed keyboards available and you should try several different types before deciding on which may be the most comfortable for you.
Screen brightness, contrast, and color combinations should be selected by the operator for optimal viewing comfort. Check the program specifications to determine if color combinations can be altered. These adjustments can have a profound impact on viewer comfort and productivity
Display images on the screen should appear stable and free of any distortion flicker, or jitter. Blinking screen characters or the cursor may contribute to eye fatigue. If adjustable, blinking characters should not vary at more than 2 hertz (2 cycles per second).
See "The Effects of Video Display Terminal Use on Eye Health and Vision" from the American Optometric Association for additional information on eye discomfort and/or visual problems associated with VDTs.
Comfortable viewing distance from the eye to the screen is 20 to 24 inches. This should be adjustable by the operator. Often VDT screens are arranged too high, forcing the operator to tilt the neck severely backward causing neck pain. It is recommended that the center of the screen be 10-25 degrees below eye level.
he VDT should be tiltable from about 5 degrees forward to about 15 degrees backward to help eliminate screen reflections and maximize viewer comfort.
Source documents should be located at or near the same distance as the screen. A document holder may be useful for data entry and dialogue tasks. It should be adjustable in height and angle of tilt.
A wrist rest or arm rest should be available for those who desire it. These devices can reduce static muscle loading and deviated wrist postures while keying.
Hands and fingers should be relaxed while keying.
There are also an assortment of padded mouse pads available.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends against using laptops as primary computers unless they are used in a way consistent with neutral posture. Maintaining neutral postures will reduce stress and strain to the musculoskeletal system.
There are several good sources which address laptop ergonomic issues:
Furniture should be able to accommodate the 5th percentile female through the 95th percentile male dimensions. These percentiles represent all but the smallest five percent of women and the largest five percent of men. To accomplish this, furniture should be adjustable or there should be a selection of furnishings to choose from. The seat height, heights for the equipment (keyboard and other working surfaces), and the height for the display should be adjusted to personal taste. Also, take into consideration the four critical points of support for the operator's body: a wrist rest for the hands; seat pan for the buttocks; a short rest, usually called an elbow rest; and back support. For worker comfort, important postural angles are the angles of the elbow and knee, and the angle of the seat back. As a general rule, the workstation should provide maximum flexibility of components. The items listed below should also be taken into consideration when designing the office work station.
VDT operators should periodically take a break, stand up, stretch and change sitting positions. Work/rest schedules vary according to the job's physical and psychological demands.
Visual targets should be located close to each other -- at the same distance from the eyes and in about the same direction of gaze. If the visual targets are spaced apart in direction or distance, the eye must be continuously redirected and refocused while sweeping from one target to another. This may contribute to eye fatigue.
Proper eye wear is a critical factor in reducing eye fatigue. The person prescribing lenses should be aware that VDT work is involved and know the range of distances encountered. Optical prescription single-vision or focal length lenses designed for computer use are available through vision care specialists.
Be creative. There are many easy and inexpensive solutions that will make the work station more comfortable and productive.
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