Ita Leyden – Ergonomist & Forensic Engineer answers your work related health and safety queries as part of our new monthly Q&A session.
“I work from home a lot of the time – what should I consider from an ergonomics perspective?”
Although it’s likely the cosiest place in your home, especially on a cold, winter day, don’t stay in bed to work. Typing with a laptop positioned on your stomach is not ideal. Instead, sit at a desk or table and make sure your monitor is positioned about an arm’s length away from your chest. Adjust the height of your chair so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are bent at a right angle – if you are using a kitchen chair, even though this is not ideal – use a cushion to raise your height.
Take breaks as often as your work will allow. Remaining in static postures for long durations can increase blood pressure, compress the discs in your spine, and promote tension in muscles that perform everything from walking to typing. To increase mobility, schedule micro-breaks in your calendar or phone and walk to the kitchen every 30 minutes to get a drink of water. Micro breaks are just short breaks away from your computer e.g. standing up to answer the phone.
If background noise helps your productivity level, tune the television or radio to something you’ve never heard. Studies show human performance decreases when a familiar stimulus is introduced.
To avoid eyestrain and awkward neck postures, ensure your work space has appropriate overhead lighting. Reduce glare on your computer screen from ambient light by positioning your monitor perpendicular to any windows.
Laptop computers were designed for short-term use. If using full time, be sure to use peripheral devices, including a mouse and headset. Working without them may decrease efficiency and increase discomfort in the upper extremities.
For more information or if you have any other queries which you would like me to address contact info@LCE.ie.