If you’re not careful, slouching at a desk all day or tapping away at a computer keyboard can lead to painful and disabling strains in your wrists, shoulders, elbows, neck and back. We used to believe that occupations like construction caused most injuries. However, someone who works at a computer is putting considerable stress on their wrists, shoulders, neck and spine, and this can cause some really painful injuries. Repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, as more and more people spend their work hours in front of a computer screen. When the work day ends, many people go home and ‘surf the net’ for hours.

To reduce the possibility of suffering one of these painful and possibly disabling injuries, make sure your chair fits correctly. There should be 2 inches between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees. Ideally, the chair should have a lumbar support. Sit with your knees at approximately a 90 to 110 degree angle. Using an angled foot rest to support your feet may help you sit more comfortably. Your elbows and hips should be at 90 degree angles. Position your computer monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level, with adequate lighting and no glare. Keep your wrists in the neutral position, not angled up or down, while you type. A wrist rest can help. Your mouse should be positioned in close proximity to the keyboard to avoid over reaching. And, take periodic stretch breaks.

office desk ergonomics diagram

Area A

  • Screen, document holder and keypad in front of user
  • Monitor and adjustable document holder at the same angle and height, 18-25” viewing distance
  • Viewing angle: top line of type at or slightly below eye level (15 degrees downward from horizontal)
  • Screen inclination 75 to 110 degrees

Area B

  • Height of work surface 26-29”
  • Thickness of work surface at least 1”
  • Width of work surface at least 30”
  • Height from floor to screen center approximately 36-51”
  • Keyboard height approximately 36”

Area C

  • Home row of keys at elbow height
  • Wrists neutral when addressing keyboard
  • Wrist rest equal in height to the space bar key and approximately 3” wide
  • Mouse positioned at the same height and distance as the keyboard
  • Mouse positioned in close proximity to keyboard to avoid overreaching
  • 3-6” of space between knees and desk

Area D

  • Elbows and hips 90 degrees
  • Knees 90 to 100 degrees
  • Shoulders relaxed, not elevated or abducted when addressing keyboard
  • Arm rests adjustable for width and height
  • Arm rests should allow close approach to desk
  • Back rest is approximately 7 x 13” with lumbar support at L4 to L5
  • Back rest inclination 90 to 100 degrees
  • Seat pan approximately 16 x 16”
  • Seat pan tilt +/- six degrees to the horizontal
  • Seat pan and back rest separately adjustable
  • Chair height is adjustable to 16-20” from floor to seat pan
  • Chair ends at least 2” from back of knee, but covers 75% of thigh

Area E

  • Foot rest or feet flat on floor; pivoting style foot rest is best for changing position

Area F

  • Headset is used to prevent awkward head position

Original artwork by Karen Graham, New England Baptist Hospital, Media Production

Call Now Button