Easy & Low Cost Ergonomic Improvements

by THS on April 13, 2010

One of the challenges some buyers face is how to pay for the ergonomic tools their employees need to work in comfort. While there is no shortage of research supporting the economic value and return on investment of making ergonomic changes, most companies and individuals still have to contend with a budget. This article will discuss a number of low cost “fixes” that can improve working conditions for computer workers. These are also great solutions for home offices.

Most people are looking for answers because someone is in pain. For many individuals, pain can be relieved by insuring all their tools are positioned properly and, where appropriate, fit the user properly. Computer tools such as monitors, keyboards, and mice are positioned well when the user can use them in as relaxed a body position as possible. If you would like to get measurements on approximately where your major tools should be, check out our office desk, chair and keyboard height calculator.

Monitors should be placed so the person does not need to look down or up, or strain their neck forward or back. A monitor arm such as the Innovative 7000 LCD Monitor Arm allows the user to position their monitor correctly and frees up valuable desk surface space at the same time.

The keyboard should be close to the body and allow the arms to work at a 90 degree or greater angle. For most people, getting the keyboard and mouse in their laptop works well. An articulating keyboard tray will allow the worker to pull their keyboard to their body, position it at the right height and tilt it downward away from the body (called “negative tilt” this allows for typing without extending the hands upwards which causes stress). The Idea at Work Inline Mouse Platform is a lower cost choice for bringing the keyboard and mouse into a healthy working position.

Many workers mouse more than keyboard and reaching for the mouse can cause arm and shoulder pain. TheDexterity Mouse Platform mounts quickly without tools to the arm of a chair, so you’ll never reach for your mouse again.

Another simple and inexpensive choice, that is also portable, would be to use the Mobo chair mounted keyboard tray. The Mobo consists of two arm mounted mouse platforms with a tray that sits on top of the mouse platforms.  It can be used for either a laptop computer or a regular keyboard and mouse.

Got elbow pain and hard chair arms? A set of Armazing pads mount quickly on top of your existing chair arm pads. These soft and thick cushions are really comfortable.

Getting the desk height right if you don’t have a height adjustable desk can be a challenge for shorter or taller workers. A foot rest such as the Humanscale FM100 can allow the petite worker to sit high enough to reach the desk, while still maintaining adequate support for the legs. The Stackable Desk Risers from ESI Ergonomics can add up to 3″ of height to a desk so taller workers can set their chair at a comfortable height and not risk smacking their knees on the work surface or keyboard tray.

While an increasing percentage of workers are using laptop computers, a laptop alone is an ergonomic nightmare.  It is impossible to use the keyboard and get the monitor screen into a healthy position at the same time. The least expensive and most portable fix for this problem is to use a portable laptop stand, such as theGoldtouch Go Travel Notebook Stand, along with a portable keyboard and mouse. We recommend theGoldtouch Go Travel Keyboard or the Human Solution Travel Keyboard.

Last but by no means least, is the chair. For most workers a good chair is the key to a comfortable office. No chair is perfect for every body. A good chair fits the body correctly, is suitable for the number of hours the person will sit in it and is designed for the type of work that will be done. For more information on how to choose a chair, see our How to Choose the Best Ergonomic Chair article. We do not recommend buying poor quality chairs, but a comfortable, suitable chair does not have to be extremely expensive either. The Apollo Series of chairs by Raynor Eurotech features several models that fit users from 5’2″  to 6’2″ and up to 250 lbs. The collection includes models that work well at home or in the office and feature mesh backs with good lumbar support, adjustable tilt, and height and width adjustable arms.

All models are around $200 each. Buyers who can stretch the budget a bit further will find there is a nice selection of good ergonomic chairs under $500 to fit almost anyone.

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Written by THS

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