Healthy Computing: Beer Budget Ergonomics

Have you heard the saying, “Champagne tastes on a beer budget”? We often feel that way when we think of ergonomics. If you find that you look at your workstation and think, “If only I had more money, I could have a better ergonomic set-up,” you probably have a beer budget. Ergonomic changes don’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money-what is usually required is creativity. Help reduce discomfort caused by poor ergonomics and increase creativity when you implement BEER BUDGET ERGONOMICS.

How to Implement Beer Budget Ergonomics:

Take a moment to assess your workstation. Then explore the following
simple and inexpensive ergonomic problems.

Desk too low:

  • Place 2×4 boards, bricks, etc. under the legs of the desk.

Desk too high:

  • Trim the legs.
  • Raise your chair and use a footrest or create a platform upon which you
    can sit.


  • Use phone books or firm pillows.

No room for a mouse on your keyboard tray:

  • Place a mouse bridge over the 10-key pad.
  • Use a c-clamp with a small board next to the keyboard tray to create a
    mouse pad.

No document holder:

  • Prop a 1-inch 3-ring binder between the keyboard and monitor–use a small piece of anti-skid material or a large clip to keep documents from sliding (anti-skid material is often sold at hardware stores or Target, where it is sold as shelf liner).
  • If you are reading a book, use a fork to keep the pages open-place it
    across the top with the prongs slipped through the pages on the right
    and the handle pressing against the pages on the left.

Slant table for writing:

  • Use hard cover 2-inch 3-ring binder with anti-skid material.


  • Use a pillow for better back support.
  • Remove the armrests if they get in the way of working at the keyboard.
  • Roll a towel and hang it over the back so it supports your spine and
    helps you to maintain a neutral posture.

  • Wrap the armrests with soft, spongy material if they are too hard.
  • Sit on a large gym ball instead of a chair.

Negative keyboard tilt:

  • Place a row of post-it pads underneath the front of the keyboard.

Sharp edges on the desk:

  • Glue a strip of weather stripping to the edge.

Monitor too close:

  • Move your desk away from the wall and push your monitor to the back.

Regardless of your ergonomic situation, always remember to take your
breaks-micro-, meso-, and large movement.

Copyright 2003 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney

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