Ergonomic Tips

Prolonged use of a computer keyboard and/or mouse can lead to frequent muscle aches and nerve pain unless a few guidelines are followed. You can work more comfortably and safely if you incorporate the following ergonomic tips into your work style:

Posture and Positioning

  • Maintain good posture when working at the keyboard. Utilize a chair with back support. 
  • Keep your feet supported on the floor or on a footrest when you work to reduce pressure on your lower back
  • Avoid twisting or bending your trunk or neck. Frequently used items should be positioned directly in front of you and angled upward on a copyholder when working. 
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed with your elbows close to your sides.
  • Avoid resting your elbows on the hard surface or edge of your table. Pads can be used to protect your elbows if necessary.
  • Elbows should be positioned at 100 to 110 degrees when working in order to keep a relaxed position at the keyboard. This could require a slight negative tilt (front of keyboard higher than back) when working in upright positions. If reclined in your chair, the keyboard could be at a positive angle to maintain this relaxed position.
  • Your wrists should be in a neutral or straight position when keying or using a pointing device or calculator. Wrist rests can assist you in maintaining a neutral position when used properly during pauses. Float your arms above the keyboard and wrist rest when keying. Avoid planting your wrists on the table or wrist rest. This can result in bending the wrists either up and down or side to side.
  • Take breaks. These breaks can be brief and should include stretches for optimal results. If possible, take a one or two-minute break every 15 to 20 minutes, or a five-minute break every hour. Every few hours, get up, move around, and do an alternative activity.

Work Technique

  • Reduce keystrokes with the use of macros or software programs allowing "sticky keys." Use scroll locks and keystroke combinations to reduce pointing-device movements.
  • Alternate tasks to make changes in your working position to avoid making the same movements for prolonged periods of time.
  • Keep your fingers and knuckles relaxed when working at the keyboard.
  • Never hold a pen or pencil in your hand when keying.
  • Avoid hitting the keyboard with excessive force. Studies have shown that the average user hits the keyboard with four times the required force when keying.
  • Avoid holding your pointing device tightly. Your hand should be relaxed.
  • Rest your eyes by refocusing on distant objects intermittently when working.
  • Position the monitor so that the viewed part of the screen allows you to keep your neck in a neutral or straight position. The monitor should be centered directly in front of you. The top of the computer screen should be slightly below the top of your head, so that you are looking at it with a slightly downward gaze.
  • Position your monitor to eliminate excessive glare or reflections from windows and lighting.

Lifting and Moving Techniques

  • If available, use equipment (e.g. cart, hand truck) to move the object that are heavy or need to travel a long distance.
  • Assess the object’s weight. If the object is too heavy or bulky, ask a coworker for help
  • If possible, disassemble larger objects into smaller, more manageable parts
  • Ensure a safe path free of debris, obstacles, and stairs.
  • Ensure a clear line of vision when carrying objects.

Proper Lifting Technique

  • Stand close with your feet shoulder width apart and face the object
  • Bend your knees, keep your back straight and look forward
  • Lift with your legs
  • Keep items close to your body and at waist height

Watch Your Back

  • Take frequent breaks to interrupt repetitive lifting, mix in tasks that do not involve lifting, and take breaks to stretch.
  • Use a stool or ladder to reach loads above your shoulders. Get as close to the load as possible before sliding it towards you. Work with your arms and legs — not your back.
  • Take extra care with loads under racks or cabinets. Pull the load towards you, try to support the load on one knee before you lift, and use your legs to power the lift.
  • Slide objects instead of lifting and carrying them.
  • Push objects instead of pulling them.
  • Plan tasks ahead of time to limit lifting and moving.
  • Use hand trucks and push carts to assist with moving objects. For extremely heavy items, call on an authorized forklift operator.
  • Design your workstation to avoid excessive bending, twisting, and stretching. Use tool supports for prolonged tool use.

Avoid Slip & Fall

  • Reduce the risk of slipping on wet flooring:
  • Take your time and pay attention to where you are going and walking
  • Adjust your stride to a pace that is suitable for the walking surface and the tasks you are doing
  • Walk with your feet pointed slightly outward
  • Make wide turns at corners

Reduce the risk of tripping

  • Keeping walking areas clear from clutter or obstructions
  • Keeping flooring in good condition
  • Always use installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks
  • Use a flashlight if you enter a dark room where there is no light
  • Make sure the things you are carrying or pushing do not prevent you from seeing any obstructions, spills, etc.