Apply Ergonomic Best Practices When Working from Home or on the Road

Women WFH at sitting desk

Employees should apply sound ergonomic principles, even when they are not in a traditional office environment.

Whether working at home or while traveling, musculoskeletal injury risk from working at a computer can be reduced with proper posture, good work habits and appropriately adjusted equipment. The following tips should help minimize potential risk factors and maximize your comfort.

Table/Desk

  • Use a desk between 28-30 inches in height, a height that allows your elbows to bend at a neutral/natural 90-degree angle. Desk thickness should not exceed 2 inches.
  • Allow for adequate leg room with a minimum of 18-inch depth and 24-inch knee width.
  • Desks should provide depth to place the monitor at least 18-20 inches from the user.
  • If a desk is not available, use a dining table with a height-adjustable chair. Refrain from working on a kitchen countertop or while sitting on the floor.
  • Refrain from using lap desks for long periods.

Chair

If possible, use an adjustable chair with the following features:

  • Pneumatic height adjustment
  • Lumbar back support
  • Height-adjustable seat back with locking function
  • Adjustable depth seat pan
  • Padded armrests that are height and depth adjustable with rounded edges (Optional)

Additional considerations include the following:

  • Consider sitting on a small, moderately firm pillow to place the seated elbow height at the level of the keyboard and mouse. A thin pillow can be used to provide additional support to the lower back.
  • Refrain from sitting on very soft couches; they do not support the body evenly during extended sitting.
  • Stand, stretch and/or walk after sitting for two hours.

Keypad/Mouse

  • Utilize a keyboard and mouse if possible.
  • If the desk height is above 30 inches, consider a height-adjustable keyboard tray.
  • Ensure the mouse is next to the keyboard.
  • Ensure that keyboard and mouse cord lengths are adequate and free of tangles or use wireless peripherals.
  • The keyboard and mouse should be near the edge of the table.
  • Avoid planting the wrists during keyboard and mouse use.
  • Use a small rolled-up towel or a gel wrist rest for palm support when typing.
  • When using a laptop for prolonged periods, use an external keyboard and mouse.

Monitor

  • Position the monitor directly in front of the body at roughly an arm’s length away.
  • Dual monitors should be positioned more than an arm’s length away and in an arc.
  • Large monitors should also be positioned more than an arm’s reach.
  • The top two-thirds of the monitor(s) should fall within eye level.
  • Use a small box, reams of paper, books, etc., to raise the height of the monitor(s) or laptop.
  • Position monitors away from direct sunlight.

Office Accessories

  • A footrest is often needed to support the feet when your chair is raised to work at the desk height.
  • Consider a headset if you are on the phone for more than two hours per day.
  • Use a document holder or angle a clipboard near the monitor, and view documents at/or close to the same height as the monitor.
  • Use a small box, reams of paper or a phone book to support your feet if a footrest is not available.
  • Use a speakerphone for long or frequent calls if a headset is not available.

Lighting

  • Change the orientation of the workstation if glare or reflection is present.
  • Task lighting can be used to highlight documents and desktop areas.
  • Lamps with diffusers or shields can help reduce glare.
  • Light from lamps should not directly face the eyes.
  • Avoid facing windows without shades or curtains.

Learn More about Ergonomic Control Measures

Ergonomic Control Measures - Seated Work

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