Your Ergonomic Computer Desk
Anyone who spends time using a computer workstation will appreciate the importance of setting up an ergonomic computer desk and workspace. Even small adjustments in the position of a keyboard or monitor can make a big difference in reducing pain or eye strain.
Setting up an ergonomic computer desk and workspace is not difficult. Just keep the basic ergonomic principles in mind, and determine the right ergonomic products for your workspace.
Basic Ergonomic Computer Desk Principles
1. The Ergonomic Computer Desk: Your Work Surface
When setting up an ergonomic computer desk, the work surface height is a great place to start. If you have your desk already, note the shape of the desk edge you’ll be facing when you work. A traditional, rectangular desk with a straight edge provides the most flexibility in setting up a monitor and keyboard tray. However, there are easy solutions for desks that form a radius, diagonal or 90-degree corner -- popular configurations in today’s home and commercial office spaces. Adjustable-height work surfaces are ideal for stations with multiple users.
2. Your Monitor
Your monitor should be placed on your ergonomic computer desk such that the top of the screen is at eye level or slightly below. This keeps eye strain to a minimum and can help reduce back and shoulder pain. To adjust the height properly, you may need a monitor lift or arm. Your chair height (see below) will also affect the monitor position.
3. Your Keyboard and Mouse
Your keyboard position is one of the most critical aspects of your ergonomic computer desk. A large percentage of repetitive motion injuries stem from incorrect keyboard and/or mouse positioning. Adjust the height of your ergonomic keyboard tray so that your forearms are parallel to the floor, with your elbows at a 90° angle. Be sure to use an ergonomic wrist support with your keyboard and an adjustable mouse tray, positioned in line with your keyboard tray.
4. Seating Comfort
Another key part of creating an ergonomic computer desk is selecting a comfortable chair. Ergonomically designed chairs have backs that are adjustable in height and angle. They typically have some lumbar support, but often people with back pain will use an ergonomic back support in addition. Your chair should have adjustable-height arm rests as well. Once you set up your ergonomic computer desk and adjust your chair to a comfortable height, be sure your feet are flat on the floor. If not, you may need a foot rest to elevate them.
5. Equipment Access
Your ergonomic computer desk isn’t complete without accessories that make it easier for you to reach computer equipment and view your work. A CPU holder can help reduce back strain by holding your CPU securely, and bringing it up off the floor and closer to you. A document holder that that holds your work vertically at eye level can help minimize neck pain.
Keeping these principles of setting up an ergonomic computer desk in mind can help you ease any current pain you may be feeling, and it may help reduce your chance of getting repetitive motion injuries in the future. For more information, see the following resources:
Ergoweb: “A premier ergonomics company, providing scientifically based, yet application oriented products and services.”
CU Ergo (Cornell Ergonomics Web): “Focuses on ways to enhance usability by improving the ergonomic design of hardware, software, and workplaces, to enhance people's comfort, performance and health.
OSHA on Computer Workstations
UCLA Ergonomics Program: “designed to provide workers with practical information on ergonomics. Both blue and white collar workers will find helpful information on work techniques, equipment, and injury prevention and exercises.”
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