Ergonomics and the dilemma of modern office life
We’ve seen it in the news and on TV: Sitting is bad for you. We’ve heard that “sitting is the new smoking”; office workers suffer from “sitting disease,” and on and on.
Adult Americans do spend an average of more than 7.5 hours per day being sedentary (not counting sleep time). Employed adults who work primarily in office jobs spend up to 75 percent of their time at work sitting.
Recent studies suggest that even modest decreases in sedentary time can help reduce risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and premature mortality. It’s no wonder there’s been a push toward furnishing the office with standing desks, but is that really the answer?
Ergonomics in the Office
Ergonomics (from the Greek word ergon meaning work, and nomoi meaning natural laws), is the science of refining a product’s design to enhance it for human usage.
Human physiognomies such as height, weight and proportion are considered, as well as evidence about such factors as human sight, hearing and temperature preference.
Computers and associated products, including chairs and desks, frequently are the focus of ergonomic design. If these products are poorly designed or improperly adjusted, the user can suffer unnecessary fatigue, stress and even injury.
With a correct ergonomic posture, all extremities of the body are in a neutral (non-stressful) position; shoulders relaxed with elbows close to your side, wrists straight and in line with forearms, elbows at about 90 degrees in relation to the torso.Knees should ideally be lower than the hips.
A standard desk (at 29 inches to 30 inches high) was designed for writing by hand—is too tall. In the era of typewriters, the secretarial return was introduced with a height of 26 inches to counter the strain of typing on the higher surface. As desktop computers came into use, keyboard trays and drawers were added to desks to bring keyboards closer to typewriter height.
Rise of RSIs
In the 1980s as computers became ubiquitous in office settings, workers started to experience repetitive strain injuries (RSIs)—stress and strain from keyboarding and mousing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed an explosion of growth in occupational related RSIs between 1980 and 1990. While not all were related to office work, it became clear that the activities that made typing and data entry faster and easier also caused more stress and strain injuries as employees moved less and sat in a fixed position at their desks.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 327,060 musculoskeletal disorders (such as sprains or strains from repetitive motion) accounted for 35.8 lost-work-day cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2013.
Attention to ergonomics increased in the 1990s with U.S. Health & Human Services regulations aimed at stemming the occurrence of injury.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Established procedures for choosing and positioning workstation components and defined neutral body positions for decreasing injury. Companies began to implement workstations to help reduce stress and strain injuries.Guidelines were developed for selecting and arranging workstation components and described neutral body positions for decreasing injury.
Companies began investing in ergonomically correct workstations to help reduce stress and strain injuries. The results revealed reductions in injuries, less time away from work and increased productivity. For minimal spending on ergonomic office equipment, companies have found a rapid payback on their investment and a lasting return on initial expenditure.
Ergonomically Correct Sitting Posture
Moving is Key
Recently there’s been much media attention given to the hazards of sitting. Despite the hype (as in “sitting is the new cancer”), there is research that links prolonged sitting with obesity and metabolic syndrome, the collection of risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. For workers who are sitting for long periods, ergonomic workstations and postures go a long way toward preventing injuries typical in an office environment. But considering the studies potentially linking sedentary lifestyle to disease, might standing be a healthier way to work?
The truth is, standing for long periods is no better for health than prolonged sitting. The key is to move; preferably, office employees should stand about 8 minutes for every 20 minutes of sitting.
Recent studies advocate sitting in increments of 20 minutes followed by 8 minutes standing and two minutes moving around and stretching. Guidelines for combatting the “sedentary office” recently were issued by an international panel of experts and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. These professionals advise spreading 2 to 4 hours of standing and “light movement” over the entire work day.
But, as we begin moving more at work, here’s additional fact to keep in mind: Office furniture and computer peripherals with poor ergonomic design can take a toll on employee’s health, whether seated or standing. When an employee is in the standing position, most rules of ergonomics still apply.
Whether sitting or standing, the keyboard and computer monitor must be angled properly and positioned at the right height for the individual user. Standing posture must be neutral as well, just as when seated.
Three Sit-Stand Options to Keep People Moving
The goal is to move, despite the ease that technology provides for accomplishing tasks—the ease that essentially encourages employees to sit still at their desks and in front of their monitors all day. Some movement can take the form of walking to the printer or a lap around the office or the water cooler a couple of times during the day can be beneficial.
Other movement can be gained through various types of sit-stand options based on furniture and computer peripherals.
A few ergonomic example solutions:
Convert your Current Desk with a Sit Stand Desk Riser
Sadly, most desk risers are not a good ergonomic fit for most people. Any desk riser that does not have a keyboard tray the can adjust below the work-surface will not meet most people’s neutral posture in both the seated and standing position.
The average height of a US male is 5’9.5”, and the average height of a US female is 5’4” tall and (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Jul 18, 2017).
Both solutions we are suggesting meet ANSI/BIFMA & HFES 100-2007. Users from 5’ tall to 6’5” tall. The keyboard tray adjusts up-to 7” below the work-surface for the shorter employee. Man on the right is 6' 6" tall while the young lady below is 5'1" tall. Both are on a standard 29" tall workstation.
• Comfort Plus Single Monitor: https://www.ergoprise.com/s2s-comfort-plus-standing-desk/
• Comfort Plus Dual Monitor: https://www.ergoprise.com/s2s-dual-comfort-plus-standing-desk/
• S2S Sit-Stand Single Monitor Workstation: https://www.ergoprise.com/s2s-sit-stand-workstation/
• S2S Sit-Stand Dual Monitor Workstation: https://www.ergoprise.com/s2s-dual-sit-stand-workstation/
Adjustable Height Table with Accessories
The Uprise Standing Desk is the Mercedes Benz of standing desks. It may not be the cheapest, but it’s the sturdiest and faster than most desks, and made with the very best components. Just compare the feet and bolts to the others and you will notice quickly the difference. This base also meets TAA compliance.
Uprise Standing Desk: https://www.ergoprise.com/uprise-standing-desk/
You can easily enhance the ergonomics of this desk with a trackless keyboard tray system that quickly stows away by folding over the desks cross bar. The Trackless Keyboard Tray meets ANSI/HFES, 100-2007 and BIFMA G1-2002 compliance which meets the 5th to the 95th percentile.
Trackless Keyboard Tray System: https://www.ergoprise.com/trackless-keyboard-tray-system-27-wide-hdpe-tray/
Lastly, monitor mounts are used for numerous reasons; adjusting your monitor to the correct height and angle if you wear progressive glasses, helps to clear desk clutter and to be able to adjust your monitor to eliminate screen glare.
Ascend 26.5" Reach Monitor Arm:
The Ascend 26.5” Reach Monitor Arm is an ideal arm due to its extended reach and functionality.
Ascend Single Screen Mount: https://www.ergoprise.com/ascend-monitor-arm/
Ascend Dual Screen Mount: https://www.ergoprise.com/ascend-dual-hub-monitor-arm/
Visit Ergoprise.com to see more ergonomic seating and workplace accessories to reduce stress and a more comfortable work life.