Office Ergonomics - Avoiding Desk Related Injuries

School is now in session

Many of us will be returning to a schedule that involves sitting for prolonged period at a desk. You can’t avoid the work that needs to be done but you can avoid Musculoskeletal Injury (MSI) from a poorly designed workstation. We’re bringing back a topic we’ve talked about before in a previous post.

By referring to the diagram below, we hope you can optimize your work area for productivity, comfort, and health. This sheet can be downloaded for reference at the bottom of this post.

An effective work space will encourage good posture, in addition to preventing MSI from continuous strain on the soft tissues in your body (ie. muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, nerves). However, being mindful of your posture during the working day is equally vital, as is sensible management of your working hours to include task changes, position changes, scheduled breaks and regular pauses.

The key points to take away are:

  • Work surface should be level with your elbow
  • Monitor should be placed at a height where the top of the monitor matches your eye level and tilted upwards slightly to accommodate
  • Seat height should reach just beneath your knee cap while you are standing
  • Keep your elbow bent at a 90 degree angle and wrist in a neutral (straight) position as often as possible

Avoid sitting for long periods of time if you can help it by moving around frequently:

  • Get up from your desk at least once an hour
  • Recline in your chair to encourage blood flow to back muscles
  • Move your feet around under your desk. Changing foot positions (by stretching your legs out or using a footrest) changes the distribution of force through your body, altering blood flow patterns and reducing muscle stiffness.

Check out these resources for office stretches!

Additional Resources:

WorkSafeBC Ergonomic Work Space Manual – Online PDF Viewer
-Provides more details into the nature of MSI and
-The recommended types of input devices (mouse and keyboard) and chairs