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* Office Ergonomics #2 *

Things You Should Look For to Prevent Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs)

A Checklist

Checklists as diagnostics and solution-finders aren't always successful, but they can be used as learning tools. 

This is one that has been successful in helping people "sharpen their eye" in looking for risk factors.  Possible solutions to each problem are also listed.  And there are almost always SEVERAL ways to fix a given problem.

Things to look for: Possible solutions, depending on further analysis:
Prolonged hunched or elevated shoulder while holding the phone Telephone headset
Elbows splayed out (shoulder abduction) Lower work surface
Lower chair armrests
Bring chair armrests in closer
Awareness and habit training
Raised or tensed shoulders Habit or tension training
Lower work surface or keyboard
Lower chair armrests
Raise chair, if foot contact with
     the floor can be maintained
Twisting the head to the side Bring viewed item closer to
     centerline of view
Elbow flexed for long periods using the telephone Telephone headset
Elbow or forearm resting for long periods on hard or sharp work surface, chair armrests Pad or round surfaces, corners,
     and armrests
Replace armrests
Telephone headset
Habit training
Wrists bent to the sides when using side keys Habit training
Keyboard with more accessible
     keys or split keyboard design
Wrists bent back (extended) or forward (flexed) for prolonged periods Habit training
Wrist rest
Lower, raise, or change slope
     of the keyboard
Wrists or palms resting for long periods on hard or sharp keyboard or work surfaces Habit training
Wrist rest
Padded or rounded surfaces, corners
Hands held actively over the keyboard during keying pauses Habit training
Wrist or forearm rest
Rapid, sustained, or prolonged keying Greater work variety
Aggressive break schedule
Reduce overtime
Forceful keying, key pounding Habit training
Light-touch keyboard
Significant amounts of hand stapling, punching, lifting, opening mail, or other forceful exertions, especially combined with awkward postures Mechanical aids, such as electric
     stapler or punch
Reduce size of lifted loads
Bring heavy loads close to
     the body, at a medium height
Substitute sliding (work surface)
     or wheeling (floor)
Sharpen letter openers
Prolonged mouse use Greater work variety
Aggressive break schedule
Alternate hands
Alternative pointer devices
Arm support, including small table
Mouse close to body
     (extended keyboard tray)
Learn keystroke substitutes for
Prolonged sitting, especially in only one posture Greater work variety
Aggressive break schedule
Chair that supports posture change,
     through movement, size,
     or easy adjustability
Habit training
Move phone to the other side
     of the office to force standing,
     or suggest standing when
     on phone
Check chair fit
Monitor in-out mechanism
Sit-stand work surface
Lumbar back area not supported Lumbar cushion
Backrest height and tilt
Check chair fit, especially
     backrest/lumbar height
Feet dangling, not well supported, or a posture which seems to put pressure on the backs of the thighs Lower chair
Lower work surface
Habit training
Foot rest (last resort)
Chair backrest not used for long periods Check chair fit, especially seat pan
     depth and height
Check leg room
Check monitor distance
Habit training
Twisted torso Rearrange work
Provide more knee space
U-shaped work surface layout
Swivel chair
Frequent or prolonged leaning or reaching Rearrange work
Mouse pad wrist or forearm rest
Bring mouse and keyboard
     closer to body
Working with one or both arms "reaching" toward a mouse or keyboard Bring keyboard closer to body
Mouse pad wrist or forearm rest
Bring mouse closer to keyboard
Light sources that can be seen by the worker Cover or shield light sources
Rearrange work arena
Lower other viewed objects
     to lower field of view
Reflected glare on the screen Shield light sources
Shade screen
Glare screen
Move monitor so light enter from
    side angle, not back
Lower light levels
Move light sources
Too much contrast between screen and surroundings or document; worker feels relief when bright areas are shielded Lower ambient light levels
Turn off or dim task lights
Change screen polarity to
     black on white
Very bright ambient lighting (above 500 lux or 50 fc) or shadowed areas caused by over-illumination Lower ambient light levels to 200-500 lux (20-50 fc)
Monitor closer than approximately 40 cm (16") Push monitor back
Habit training for reclining
Computer glasses
Bring keyboard forward, possibly
     with a keyboard tray
Different viewed objects (screen, documents) at different distances from the eyes Use document stand or
     otherwise equalize distances
     to within about 10 cm (4")
Screen or documents not oriented perpendicular to the line of sight Change monitor, document stand
Prolonged near focusing throughout the day with few far-focusing opportunities Habit training
Rearrange space to provide view
Introduce glazing
Monitor image dim, fuzzy, flickers, small, or otherwise difficult to read Upgrade monitor
Use software to enlarge image
Shiny, low-contrast, or small-print documents Improve lighting on documents if
     documents cannot be changed
Forward position of the head (peering) or squinting Check for monitor image quality
     problems or monitor distance
Suggest consultation with vision
Eyestrain complaints Check all aspects of visual
Suggest consultation with vision
Neck extended backwards, head tilted back, even slightly Remove CPU from under monitor
Remove tilt-swivel base from
     monitor (leave ventilation space)
Check for bifocals and suggest
      full-frame "computer glasses"
Neck flexed (downward) Raise document or monitor to a
     comfortable height
Adjust posture
Habit retraining
Check glasses for inadequate

* Sit Right for Safety *

We welcome comments about this article, and your requests for future topics.

    If you have a specific topic you would like to see covered here or that you may need for your company, please send an Email to our Tail Gate Safety Topics editor, Dave Miller at demiller@pacificemployers.com or to peinfo@pacificemployers.com. Thanks!

Copyright 1999 by David E. Miller