Many students and employees across the country are adjusting to a new environment as they set themselves up to work from home. The following information on how to set up that workspace as efficiently and ergonomically as you can will help you get through this period as safely as possible:
· Work away from noise and distractions in a space devoted specifically to work needs
· Workspace maintained free from slip, trip and fall hazards and in safe conditions at all times (think about toys, pets and clothing and keep doorways unobstructed)
· Workspace capable of supporting and accommodating electronic office and supporting equipment needs and related materials
· Sufficient accessible electrical outlets
· Equipment should be placed near electrical outlets. Avoid placing cords/wires where that can be tripping hazards.
· Computer desk height at approximately 26 to 29 inches from the floor
· Fully adjustable chair to ensure that arms are at 90-degree angle to the keyboard, knees are at 90-degree angle, feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest and backrest provides support to the lumbar curve of the operator’s back and waist
· Wrists maintained in the neutral position when keying and using your mouse
· Adequate space under the desk for lateral movement
· Monitor should be adjusted so that the top of the screen is at or below the user’s eye level
· Lighting is not so bright to cause glare or so dim that it causes strain when reading the screen or reviewing documents
· Have a working smoke detector, home multipurpose fire extinguisher and evacuation plan so you know what to do in the event of a fire
· Avoid cradling your phone in your neck while on the computer; use your speaker phone feature
“Students and employees should remember to take frequent breaks. Breaks are definitely emphasized when using a laptop or other ergonomically-compromised work station,” said Jennifer Quenette, NDSU associate director of public health and safety. “Rest your eyes, stretch and get up and move. Also remember that sitting on a couch while on a laptop should be avoided, as it places the body in a posture that will inevitably result in problems.”
· Try using a small box or crate for a footrest, if you don’t have one at home – maintain that 90-degree angle to your knees to avoid any pulling on your lower back
· Explore the use of cushions and pillows to provide support when necessary
· If needed, use a rolled towel for added spine support. The towel should run the length of the spine – place it between the shoulder blades to encourage a more upright posture when seated.
· Remember your neutral posture – elbows, hips and knees at 90-degrees, feet flat on the floor or on a footrest. Wrists should be neutral and hands floating over your keyboard.