Questions from webinar: “Your Guide to Office Ergonomics”

Several great questions came up during our most recent webinar on Office Ergonomics. Here is a summary of the questions and answers that were discussed. Please don’t hesitate to send us any further questions you may have, we’re always happy to share ideas and solutions we’ve come across to help you out!

Is there any research on exercise ball chairs?

We get asked this question a lot.  Below are a few references to help you address requests for using an exercise ball instead of a traditional chair. We like these articles in particular because they have more of a research approach, as opposed to just “asking a group of people”, or a company trying to advertise/promote use of an exercise ball.

In our professional opinions, an exercise ball just doesn’t cut it as an office chair. That being said, if someone is experiencing pain/discomfort when sitting in their current chair and finds relief when sitting on an exercise ball, that’s a good sign to explore different seating options. Whether it be a making adjustments to their current chair, providing a new chair (or a chair with different features), or maybe even providing a standing workstation, it’s important to do some investigating to find the reason why the individual is uncomfortable in the first place.

If a person is tall is a higher backrest height needed?

The chair should fit the person’s body, so taller individuals may need a chair with a taller backrest to give them the needed support for their back. If the backrest doesn’t even hit their shoulder blades, that’s a good sign the backrest might be too short for them.

Often you can get the same model of chair with different options, such as different backrest heights or seat widths, to best fit the varying sizes of your workforce.

Photo courtesy of www.ergocentric.com

Are armless chairs acceptable?

Armrests do not have to be a requirement on a chair. Many people prefer armrests, as it gives them an option to rest their arms on to take the load off their shoulders/neck.

Sometimes, armrests can actually get in the way and it may actually be beneficial NOT to have armrests. If the armrests are not the right fit for the user (i.e. too wide, too high, too low), this may cause worse posture; they many lean or slouch to actually rest their arms on the armrest, or work with their shoulders raised. If the armrests can’t be adjusted to fit them, it is possible that an armless chair would be more suitable to promote better postures.  As another example, chairs in lab environments often don’t have armrests because the workers are moving around their station so frequently that the they don’t even use them; the armrests actually get in the way or prevent them from being able to pull themselves in close to their work station.

Is it better for an office to provide an ergonomic keyboard if you use it for close to 7 hours a day or more?

A standard keyboard actually does work for most people. You may want to look at alternate options for keyboards if someone does a lot of typing, but it depends what you are calling an “ergonomic keyboard”. Many times, people picture this style of keyboard to be an “ergonomic keyboard” (it’s one of the first pictures that comes up when you do a Google search too):

Microsoft Natural Keyboard

But a keyboard that has the number pad on the left, or a split keyboard, or even a compact keyboard (no number pad) could also be called “ergonomic keyboards”.

Evoluent Mouse-Friendly Keyboard          Freestyle 2 Keyboard          Evoluent Essentials Compact Keyboard

(all available at www.ergonow.com)

They can all be considered “ergonomic keyboards” because they are trying to help the user achieve neutral postures while working. So really, it is best to look at the user’s needs before determining which keyboard to purchase, as each keyboard has unique features that will work for some but not everyone. For example, the Microsoft Natural keyboard works well for people with broader shoulders or larger hands, but is likely not the best choice for petite users as it may spread their wrists further apart and cause the mouse to be too far away.

(If you have questions about a specific product, we would be happy to give you some feedback: info@proergonomics.ca)

What about the position of the 2nd screen? Many of our office workers now use 2 screens for easier viewing of several documents and are now complaining of neck soreness.

Too often we see people putting both monitors side by side in front of them and their body ends up being centred with the midpoint of the 2 screens. No matter what screen you look at, you will end up with a twisted neck posture!

When using two screens, the primary screen (i.e. the one you use the most often) should be directly in front of your body so you don’t have to twist your neck or back to view it. The secondary screen should be immediately to the right or left of that screen, and used as a reference screen. Put it on the side you are most comfortable viewing (there is such a thing as eye dominance, much like hand dominance … though they don’t necessarily correlate; i.e., just because you are right-hand dominant does not always mean you will be right-eye dominant).

If we would like to receive more training on ergonomics, what would you suggest?

Come to one of our upcoming workshops! Our Ergonomic Road Show will be hosted in 3 different locations in December and January. The morning session will be a hands-on office ergonomics workshop with a demo workstation and several products to trial. The afternoon session will be geared towards how to develop an ergonomics program at your workplace. For more details on these workshops, visit our events page.

Is there a copy of a checklist we can use for reference?

Please send us an email and we will send you a sample checklist: info@proergonomics.ca

© Copyright 2018 - PROergonomics