Class Description: State of Office Ergonomics Address: The Big Picture with practical tips

Published on March 14, 2014 by

Special note:  what follows is the overview of the presentation I did at the 2014 Governor’s Safety and Health Conference.   Let me know that you saw this post, and I will offer a version of the class (updated for worker’s perspective, and re-named - Keyboard Warrior Survival Training) at your Anchorage facility free of charge!  This offer is time limited.


After doing office ergonomics for two decades across Alaska, we are still seeing a lot of “low hanging fruit”.  I had thought all the easy interventions would have been completed a long time ago.   But even now, in workplaces that have had robust and long term ergo programs, we are seeing simple no/low cost, easy to implement, modifications that remain undone. Some of these include:

  • Training workers on how to use their current equipment, particularly how to adjust their chair and keyboard tray (and why they might want to adjust it).  I get way too many blank looks when I ask someone if they know how to adjust their chair, and exclamations of, “I didn’t know it could do that!” when I show them.
  • Adjusting the pointer speed and select the “snap to” in the mouse driver to reduce required hand movement.
  • Moving monitors, especially when dealing with dual (or more) monitors, for most neutral neck and torso postures (with tips on how to best work with your style of use).
  • Creative standing/LIPA (low intensity physical activity) options.


While I am a big fan of alternating between sitting and standing, many solutions do not deliver as advertised.  I have crunched the info from our extensive database of evaluations to illustrate the needed range between sitting and standing – and show how most trays and monitor arms underperform.  Specifications for effective sit/stand solutions are provided.  Further, while changing posture is good, it is better to change between good postures.  There is not enough information and training on good standing postures.  There was a reason that at one time seated work was prized over standing work.  Yet, there are manifold benefits to standing.  These are unpacked and the basics of standing work covered.

Standing work is often presented as a solution to the issues raised by Metabolic Syndrome. (Standing needs a little help to qualify).  After a quick review of what Metabolic Syndrome is (causes, effects, prevention), real world issues on addressing this are explored.  We are entering a time when new creativity needs to be brought to workplace and job task design, to integrate not only good working postures but also regular mobility and more low intensity physical activity (versus sedentary or high intensity).


And where are we going in the future?  Touch screens still need to find their functional niche.  As devices for input, they are quite lacking (tactile feedback issue, visual/hand use conflict, reach-lift verses head tilt).  Each new generational shift of office work technology is coming faster than the previous one.  From typewriters, to CRT displays, to flat screens, to touch screens, to ????   There was a time when office furniture could be replaced several times within a tech generation.  But now, the furniture purchased will not only be used with the current technology, but also with the next and the one after that.  We need to stop building for just the current generation of tech (there are sadly humorous illustrations of this – typing returns and extra deep computer corners, to quickly name two), but begin to anticipate the next.


I will expand on some of the themes introduced above in my following Ergo-Tuesday posts…

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