Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with
Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay
healthier while working.
Ergonomics play an important role in overall health when working at the
computer. A simple change, such as putting the keyboard at a negative
tilt may seem costly. We think that we may have to replace a desk or
purchase an adjustable keyboard tray just to achieve our goal. However,
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 use ERGO CREATIVITY.
HOW TO USE ERGO CREATIVITY:
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
- Use phone books, reams of paper, or firm pillows to create a footrest.
- 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
Source documents or books flat:
- Prop a 1-inch 3-ring binder between the keyboard and monitor to create a
document holder–use a small piece of anti-skid shelf lining or a large
clip tokeep documents from sliding (shelf lining can be found at hardware
stores, Target or Costco).
- 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 one side
and the handle pressing against the pages on the other. Rest your hands.
- When reading at home, use pillows on your lap to raise the book closer
to eye level.
Flat writing surface:
- Use hard cover 2-inch 3-ring binder with anti-skid shelf liner to create
a slant surface.
- Students can carry an empty 3-ring binder with anti-ski shelf liner for
a note-taking slant table.
- 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. Tape the towel in place with
plastic packing tape.
- Wrap the armrests with soft, spongy material if they are too hard and
- Sit on a large gym ball instead of a chair.
- Place a row of post-it pads underneath the front of the keyboard to
create a negative tilt. Peel the back of the post-its so they stick or
use anti-skid shelf liner.
Sharp edges on the desk:
- Glue a strip of weather stripping to the edge.
- Too close: Move your desk away from the wall and push your monitor to
the back of the desk.
- Too low: Use reams of paper to raise the monitor. One ream is
approximately 2 inches thick–adjust the volume of paper to the correct
- Too high: remove the stand from the bottom of the monitor.
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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