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Ergonomics in the Workplace

Ergonomics in the Workplace

Reading time: 5 minutes

What is ergonomics?

  • Ergonomics is the study of customizing a workspace to a user’s requirements and needs
  • The U.S. Department of Labor defines it as “fitting a job to a person” [1]
Ergonomics in the Workplace Infographic

Infographic text:

The Benefits of an Ergonomic Workspace

For Employees

Whether you work from home or in an office, there are many benefits of setting up an ergonomic workspace.
  • Comfort: If you have a workspace designed for your body, you’re more likely to spend your 9 to 5 completely comfortable
  • Reduces the risk of injury: Ergonomics can help you avoid common repetitive use injuries, especially related to your hands, wrists, arms, neck, and back

For Employers

  • Productivity: Ergonomic enhancements reduce the primary risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) so workers can focus on the task at hand and be more efficient without pain or injuries holding them back [2]
  • Reduces costs: Overexertion injuries are the top causes of work-related disabilities and Workers’ Compensation costs in the U.S. [3]

Common overexertion injuries

  • Lower back pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

These kinds of injuries account for 33% of all work injury and illness cases [4]

Direct costs of MSDs are about $20 billion [5]

Decrease employee absenteeism

  • An ergonomic workspace may translate to reduced absenteeism [6]
  • The median number for days off to treat and recover from MSDs: 8 days [7]

Building an Ergonomic Workspace

1. Desk: Your desk is the foundation for everything you do at work - it should complement both your industry and body

Standing Desks versus Traditional Desks

A sedentary lifestyle raises your risks for several different health issues:

  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
Research shows no amount of exercise can undo the time you’ve spent sitting [11]
However, standing all day isn’t great for your body either [12]
  • Compresses your spine
  • Increases risk for varicose veins
  • May lead to cardiovascular problems due to your heart fighting against gravity
If you choose a standing desk...
Follow these steps to make your transition to a standup desk easier on your body:
  1. Transition slowly: Work up to 30-minute to 60-minute intervals of standing. Ideal sit-stand ratios are between 1:1 and 1:3 depending on your general health, work industry, and age [13].
  2. Foam standing mat: This will help reduce your foot and leg fatigue
  3. Consider a balance board: Micromovements to keep your balance as you work will help keep you more engaged.
  4. Practice your posture: Remember to stand up straight so you don’t strain your neck, shoulders, or back.
  5. Don’t be static: Embrace movement while you’re standing, stretching regularly.
If you prefer a sitting desk...
You can still fight the ill effects of sitting all day by:
  • Take 5-minute breaks every hour
  • Practice proper posture at your desk
  • Pay attention to your desk’s height. If you have a traditional desk, your knees should fit comfortably under your desk without being too cramped [8]
  • Your knees should be about level with your hips
  • Keep your wrists straight and hands at or below elbow level
  • Your monitor should be about an arm’s length away

Best ergonomic HP desk: Ergotech Freedom Desk

  • Sit-stand solution
  • Adjusts to your perfect height
  • Easily transition from sitting to standing in just a few seconds

2. Chair

  • Armrests: Armrests give your arms a place to relax when you’re not typing
Your armrests should allow your shoulders to be disengaged and your elbows at a 90-degree angle
  • Adjustable seat height: Your thighs should be parallel when your feet are flat on the floor
  • Supportive cushion: Make sure the chair cushion has a breathable fabric and features a supportive base made out of a material like memory foam
  • Adjustable backrest height: The angle of your backrest should be slightly forward to encourage proper posture
  • Lumbar support: Strategic lumbar cushioning means you’re less likely to slump over as you work
  • Swivel and roll functions: A mobile chair means you’re less likely to strain yourself reaching for items

3. Keyboard

  • Your mouse and keyboard should be within easy reach, no straining or stretching required
  • The “B” key should line up with your belly button so you’re centered in your workspace.

Best HP ergonomic keyboard: Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

  • Curved key bed
  • Palm lift
  • Cushioned wrist rest

4. Mouse and mousepad

  • Your mouse and mousepad should be positioned in a way that allows your wrists and hands to stay in a neutral position - not too far away, not too close
    • This will help you avoid applying stress to bones and muscles

Best HP ergonomic mice and mousepads

5. Monitor:

Best ergonomic positioning of your monitor:

  • Tilt: The top of your screen should be slightly below eye level (2-3 inches) and tilted up (slightly) to help reduce neck strain, avoid glare directly entering your eyes, and for a better view of your display
  • Distance: At least 20 inches away from you but not so far that you’re straining your eyes to read the screen
  • Positioning:
    • Your display should be centered with your body if you only have one but if you have a dual-screen set-up, you’ll have a few choices to make [14]:
  • If you split your time between both monitors: Place both displays close together so you have a better view of both screens
  • If you use one monitor more: Orient yourself so you’re centered with your primary monitor and use a swivel chair to change your position for using your secondary display
  • Brightness: Balance the brightness of your monitor with its surroundings to avoid squinting and vision issues
    • The goal here is to remove any contrast between the brightness of the screen and the area behind it

Best ergonomic HP monitors

  • HP Elite display family
    • Multiple tilt, swivel, and pivot options so you always get the best view that’s most comfortable for you
    • Plenty of screen real estate to enhance your workflow
  • HP Z38c curved display
    • Curved screen naturally works with your peripheral vision
    • Easily take in the full breadth of your project
Create your own ergonomic workspace with innovative products from HP and you’ll be on your way to crushing your 9 to 5.

Infographic sources:

[1] U.S. Department of Labor; Ergonomics
[10] American Cancer Society; Standing Desks: Are they worth it?
Popular Ergonomic Accessories

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