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 phoneTelephone headset
Elbows splayed out (shoulder abduction)Lower work surface
Lower chair armrests
Bring chair armrests in closer
Awareness and habit training
Raised or tensed shouldersHabit 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 sideBring viewed item closer to centerline of view
Elbow flexed for long periods using the telephoneTelephone headset
Elbow or forearm resting for long periods on hard or sharp work surface, chair armrestsPad or round surfaces, corners, and armrests
Replace armrests
Telephone headset
Habit training
Wrists bent to the sides when using side keysHabit training
Keyboard with more accessible keys or split keyboard design
Wrists bent back (extended) or forward (flexed) for prolonged periodsHabit 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 surfacesHabit training
Wrist rest
Padded or rounded surfaces, corners
Hands held actively over the keyboard during keying pausesHabit training
Wrist or forearm rest
Rapid, sustained, or prolonged keyingGreater work variety
Aggressive break schedule
Reduce overtime
Forceful keying, key poundingHabit training
Light-touch keyboard
Significant amounts of hand stapling, punching, lifting, opening mail, or other forceful exertions, especially combined with awkward posturesMechanical 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 useGreater 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 menus
Prolonged sitting, especially in only one postureGreater 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 supportedLumbar 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 thighsLower chair
Lower work surface
Habit training
Foot rest (last resort)
Chair backrest not used for long periodsCheck chair fit, especially seat pan depth and height
Check leg room
Check monitor distance
Habit training
Twisted torsoRearrange work
Provide more knee space
U-shaped work surface layout
Swivel chair
Frequent or prolonged leaning or reachingRearrange 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 keyboardBring keyboard closer to body
Mouse pad wrist or forearm rest
Bring mouse closer to keyboard
Light sources that can be seen by the workerCover or shield light sources
Rearrange work arena
Lower other viewed objects to lower field of view
Reflected glare on the screenShield 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 shieldedLower 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-illuminationLower 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 eyesUse document stand or otherwise equalize distances to within about 10 cm (4″)
Screen or documents not oriented perpendicular to the line of sightChange monitor, document stand angle
Prolonged near focusing throughout the day with few far-focusing opportunitiesHabit training
Rearrange space to provide view
Introduce glazing
Monitor image dim, fuzzy, flickers, small, or otherwise difficult to readUpgrade monitor
Use software to enlarge image
Shiny, low-contrast, or small-print documentsImprove lighting on documents if documents cannot be changed
Forward position of the head (peering) or squintingCheck for monitor image quality problems or monitor distance
Suggest consultation with vision specialist
Eyestrain complaintsCheck all aspects of visual environment
Suggest consultation with vision specialist
Neck extended backwards, head tilted back, even slightlyRemove CPU from under monitor
Remove tilt-swivel base from monitor (leave ventilation space)
Check for bifocals and suggest full-frame “computer glasses” prescription
Neck flexed (downward)Raise document or monitor to a comfortable height
Adjust posture
Habit retraining
Check glasses for inadequate prescription