How to Make Your Computer Workstation Healthier For You!
Your health at work is important. How much attention do you pay to how you use your computer? Now, when I ask that, I don’t mean how you treat your machine or device. I mean how do you treat your body?
I know. That probably sounds like an odd question for your local IT support provider to ask. However, we do care about our clients’ ability to do their job properly and that includes making sure your tech works for you in the best way beyond just the components!
After all, a lot of us spend a huge amount of time on our computers. So, it makes sense that we need to observe the physical position we use it in, to prevent conditions like repetitive strain injuries amongst other health issues.
According to Statistics Canada, work-related RSI (repetitive strain injury) affects around 15% of Canadians. That’s over 5 million of us! It is also the single largest source of time-loss costs in Canada. Meaning health at work not only becomes an issue for employees, but it also becomes an issue for the employer.
The last day in February is a day of awareness for this condition. (I say last day, because, yes, every 4 years, they celebrate it on the one day of the year that does not always repeat!) Oh, and believe it or not, it started in Canada. International RSI Awareness Day was started by an injured Canadian worker, Catherine Fenech, over 20 years ago.
So, what can cause computer-related RSI and how can you prevent it?
It starts with looking at your whole upper body position while you use your machine. What angle are your looking at the screen at? How Is your arm positioned from the shoulder, down through the elbows and wrists, to your fingers? There is an optimal position that all these joints should be in to prevent strain… and ultimately injury.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) have a fantastic (downloadable) infographic that illustrates the best posture for computer work. To sum it up, your seat should be positioned in a way that means you are typing (or using the mouse) with your elbows close to the body and at between 90- 120 degrees. Also, forearms, wrists and hands should all be relaxed and straight.
Just a few changes to your desk and workspace can make a big difference to your comfort and your health at work.
Look at your keyboard. Do you need to move it closer to you? Also, if you are using a keyboard with the flip-down legs at the back, keep those legs folded. Contrary to popular opinion, having your keyboard raised at an angle is not good for your wrists. Keyboards should be flat to keep wrists can be in a straight relaxed position. To improve your health at work, consider getting an ergonomic keyboard.
Now, let’s talk mice… or is it mouses? (Apparently, when talking about the computer version, you can go either way!) Most people use their mouse almost 3 times as much as our keyboard. So, the mouse you choose to use will make a huge difference to your comfort and health. This is a very personal choice, as we all have very different sized hands. Therefore, you should really pick a mouse that works for you. Try them out in the store. And, once you found the one that “fits”, don’t forget to position it on your desk in the best place to keep that good elbow/wrist posture.
And, finally, consider the position of your monitor to improve health at work. Ideally, our eyes should be in line with about 2-3 inches below the top of the monitor casing. The wrong height can cause both short and long-term effects. (Eye strain, neck issues and spine problems.) This is probably a bigger concern if you work mostly on a laptop. You don’t really get much of an option on your monitor’s position!
There are a few ways to fix monitor position. These include adding a monitor on a platform or a desk with a raised platform section for the monitor. Maybe even consider mounting your monitor on a wall bracket or on a shelf just above your desk. For laptops, either plug into a separate (raised) monitor, or get stands that can tilt your laptop up at an angle.
Don’t forget a break!
Oh yes… and we probably should add that one other most important (and common!) piece of advice to avoid RSI. Take a break every now and then! It can be a really hard tip to follow but it is really important. Take a quick break after about 20-30 minutes of continuous work. And when we say take a break, we do mean a full physical break. Get up. Go for a quick walk. Even if it is just to get a drink or use the bathroom. Your body will thank you in a few years time!
If you are a Fraser Valley business owner who cares about their health at work, and would like help setting up more ergonomic workstations, or any other tech-related ways to help you run your business more efficiently, contact us!