Ergonomics

There are a number of rules and regulations that are relevant when planning office working spaces. In general, the rules and regulations make recommendations on the design of the working area, that it is to be dimensioned in such a manner that the employee can position themselves in a comfortable position with work movements.

If you as an employee would like an ergonomic review of your workplace, you can contact Feelgood on 090-17 63 60. The cost is covered by central funds, so there is no direct cost for you or the Department/unit. However, discuss this first with your supervisor, both because there may be more people who need a review, but also because the walkthrough can lead to action proposals that involve costs.

Design of the working space

The working area must be located in such a way that general lighting does not cause disturbing glare and that visual and lighting conditions do not give rise to inappropriate working positions.
Software and systems must be designed taking the requirements of the task and the situation with and the needs of the user into account. The software is to be easy to use and provide the user with feedback about the work performed.

Everything taken together

Design of the working space when working at computer monitors
Work at a monitor involving strong control or repetitive routine work that could cause stiffness must be avoided or limited. The employee must be able to take sufficient breaks so that discomfort does not arise with the work.

The working area for working with a computer monitor is to be positioned so that daylight enters from the side. This reduces the risk of glare and reflections from incident light. It should be possible to shield disturbing daylight, e.g. with blinds.

The room should be sufficiently large so that it is possible to place desks, chairs and other equipment in an appropriate manner. The desk or other work table should be large enough to place the computer monitor, keyboard, and controller unit (e.g. mouse) directly in front of the body.

The need for a good design is completely proportional to the time you sit in front of the computer. If the duties do not allow for a change, the desk and chair must allow this. It is therefore important that you have the knowledge to use the possibilities of the working space for variation.

The appropriate distance from a normal-sized computer monitor is an arm's length away from the body. Position the monitor directly on the desk so that your gaze is slightly downwards. The keyboard should be placed a bit into the desk, so that your forearms and wrists can receive support from the desk. The mouse or other control device should be positioned so that it is possible to work closely with the body with support for forearms on the desk or the armrest of the desk chair.

The work chair is to provide good stability and support but at the same time provide the possibility to easily vary the sitting height, armrests, the slope of the backrest and the inclination of the seat. When sitting work – keep in mind that the back, neck and shoulders are relieved with the help of support for forearms on the chair's armrest or desk.

Good general lighting is needed and the spot lighting really should be flicker-free, directional and earthed; high-frequency powered fluorescent lamps should be used. The spot lighting should provide an asymmetric light distribution to minimise glare and should be placed on the left side if the user is right-handed and vice versa.

Ceiling lighting that hangs along the edge of the desk provides good light and little glare risk.

A ceiling lighting with both up and down light provides good spread and distributes the light more evenly in the room. Spot lighting must also be provided if necessary. It is best if the computer monitor is positioned so that daylight from windows falls in from the side. It must be possible to shield from disturbing sunlight if necessary.

Advice about your office workplace

Here's some advice on how to customise your workplace so you don't have to get reflectors in your computer monitor and can work comfortably.

  • Use an adjustable chair that supports the lower back.
  • Sit so that the knee folds are slightly higher than the chair seat.
  • Keep both feet on the floor or on a footplate.
  • The backrest should support the lower part of your back. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and adjust the backrest to suit you.
  • When using your computer's keyboard, you should sit so that you do not tighten your shoulders. The angle between the upper and forearms must be straight. Keep your hand and wrist outstretched straight.
  • You may need to raise the chair so that the angle between the upper and forearms is correct. If your feet not reach down to the floor, you can use a footplate. Or lower the desk if possible, and you do not need to use a footplate. Use a desk with a keyboard tray for the keyboard.
  • Position the mouse so that it is on the same level as the keyboard. Make sure there's sufficient space for you to move around your mouse.
  • Position the computer monitor so that its top edge is at eye level or slightly lower when you are sitting at the keyboard. You decide which distance feels best for you, but 45-70 cm is normal.
  • Adjust the angle of the monitor so that you can avoid disturbing reflections from artificial lights and sunlight from windows. Using an adjustable monitor stand for the monitor can be quite helpful. The position allows you to change the angle of the monitor to suit you best, which can reduce or completely remove reflections from light sources that you can't move.

Discomfort during working at a computer monitor

Early signs of discomfort may be headaches and discomfort from the eyes in the form of fatigue, burning and sandy, gritty sensation in one's eyes.. Joint and muscle aches are primarily common from the neck, shoulders and arms. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from muscles and joints often have their origins with work equipment and working positions, but can also be stress-related problems or other psychological stress in the work situation.

A common problem when working with computer mice is "mouse arm syndrome." This involves discomfort from the hand, elbow and shoulder. The reason is often the position of the mouse in relation to the keyboard, that the mouse work is done with a straight arm far from the body. This gives an unnatural posture when you are forced to work with your arm in an outstretched position without a relief from the weight.

The problems with discomfort can often be prevented and the efficiency of one work can be improved if problems are detected early on, preferably in dialogue with the Occupational Health Care Services.

What you can do to avoid Musculoskeletal Disorders

Avoid angles or twisting your wrist while working. Maintain a loose and relaxed position when using the mouse; use an ergonomically designed mouse (preferably also with a wrist support rest), and let it work close to the body. Switch between working with the mouse in your right hand and left hand. This takes a little training and getting used to, but it can be learned. Vary controllers/pointing devices,/as well as vary between short-cut keys on your computer's keyboard and the mouse. Be sure to always support your forearms so that your shoulders are relaxed. Do not keep the computer monitor too high or too close, or you will unnecessarily strain your neck.

Make an attempt to relax!
The easiest way to relieve or prevent discomfort is to relax your muscles, release your hand from the mouse and gently limber up joints and muscles. Tie and stretch your fingers, bend and stretch your wrist and elbow, stretch your arms over your head, and straighten up your body. That way blood circulation increases and muscles gain new energy. Take micro-breaks – often!

Move about!
Move around to get your blood circulation going! The body part that causes pain or discomfort from working at a computer should not be exerted too hard, however light movements have a positive impact due to that the muscle cells then get an increased influx of blood. Do something, anything, that gets the circulation going throughout your body. Taking a walk or jogging can be useful.

Alexandra Haglund
3/11/2022