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Ergonomics in the Office

1. Sitting in front of the Computer

    •    Adjust the height of the chair according to the height of the work station, ensuring that your hands are: at a
         90 degrees angle, between arm and forearm, parallel to the table, and that your shoulders are relaxed and
         without strain.
    •    Should your legs not reach the floor in this position, add a stool so as to allow a sitting posture in which your
         legs are supported, for more convenience.
    •    Lean back on the chair in a 105 degrees angle. This will reduce pressure on your back. (Use the chair lever to
         change the angle of the back rest)
    •    Adjust the height of the back rest of your chair for full support of the lower back (Use the chair lever to
         change the height of the back rest.)
    •    Adjust the height of the computer screen until its upper edge is on the same level as your eyes. If the screen
         is low, its height should be adjusted. Another option is to raise the screen.
    •    The optimal distance between your eyes and the screen should be that of the extended arm, i.e., between 60
         to 70 cm.
    •    The keyboard and the mouse should be placed side by side, 8 – 10 cm away from the edge of the table, to
         enable placement of the palms in a straight line with the mouse and the keyboard.
    •    Make sure that your wrist is positioned straightly when typing and that your wrist is not bent.
    •    The forearm should be supported by the table or by the arms of the chair.
    •    Take regular intervals (5 minutes every hour) and perform stretch and relax exercises.

2. Movements to be avoided so as to prevent accumulated physical trauma

    •    Avoid bending forward for an extended period of time. This might weaken the ligaments in the lower back
         and consequently cause lower back aches. Make sure you sit according to the ergonomic principles.
    •    Avoid extending your arm for too long. This will cause pressure on the arms, shoulders and neck. Make sure
         the most frequently used accessories are within reaching range, ideally up to 40 cm from your body.
    •    Avoid bending or stretching your neck too much or for an extended period of time, i.e., over 15 degrees
         upwards or downwards. This might cause pressure on the neck and back. It is recommended that you raise
         or lower the screen, according to the ergonomic rules.
    •    Avoid blocking the space around your legs with various objects. This might cause an improper sitting
         posture. See to it that the space around the legs is free for placing of the legs comfortably and vacant space is
         available for using a stool.
    •    Avoid bending your wrists while typing. Sit properly and position a supporting pad under your wrist,
         according to the ergonomic principles.
    •    Avoid bending your palm while operating the mouse, by adequate sitting posture: keeping elbows tight to
         the body and adding a supporting pad to the wrist.

Principles of proper sitting

Ergonomics in the Laboratory

1. Sitting/Standing

    •    When working at high work surface in the office or laboratory, it is advisable to work both standing and
    •    When sitting, the height of the back rest of chair should be adjusted to the height of the work surface -
         elbows parallel to work surface.
    •    The back rest of your chair should support your lower back.
    •    Use a proper laboratory chair with a ring that supports the soles of your feet.
    •    Frequently used accessories are to be positioned up to 40 cm away
    •    Accessories seldomly used should be positioned 40 – 60 cm away.
    •    Sufficient space is to be left at the feet to enable comfortable sitting posture.
    •    If standing for an extended period of time, one foot should be placed in front of the other. Change this
         position frequently.

2. Lifting and carrying

    •    If objects/bottles are placed high above, a stool should be used.
    •    When lifting heavy objects, lower your knees in and place your feet in a stepping position, thus straightening
         your back while accomplishing the task.
    •    When moving an object, carry it close to the body and, if necessary, use a cart.
                                          Fig 1. Proper lifting technique from the ground

                                          Fig 2. Lifting children can be especially difficult, as they don't sit still like boxes
                                          do. Avoid carrying a baby with outstretched arms by holding the baby close to
                                          your chest you greatly reduce the potential strain. This advice is particularly
                                          important when putting a baby in a car seat

                                          Fig 3. hanging your baby is another opportunity for back strain. The rule is have
                                          the changing station of appropriate height to avoid bending forward

                                          Fig 4. A footstool can be used in the situation to reduce back strain along with
                                          other daily activities such as ironing, cutting vegetable, folding laundry or
                                          brushing teeth

3. Movements to be avoided so as to prevent accumulated physical trauma

    •      Avoid standing with your back bent forward for an extended period of time, as this might overstretch
           ligaments in your back and, consequently, cause back aches.
    •      Avoid repetitive postures that require exaggerated bending or stretching of the wrist.
    •      Avoid postures that require elongated pressure with the hand. This might cause pressure on the synovium
           and cause pains when moving the thumb. (Strong and quick pressing is advisable.)


Your posture for sleeping is also important. The ideal sleep posture includes:

    •      Maintenance of normal spinal curves, that is either on your back or side, not on your stomach.
    •      Avoid lumbar spine and pelvis twisting; use a pillow between the knees.
    •      When sleeping on our back, pillow under knees will allow back to relax and not overarch
    •      Pillow which cradles and supports the neck without distorting its normal alignment (Fig Α)
If your pillow is not supporting you properly, too big or too small, you might wind up with recurrent 'stiff necks',
headaches, or even referred pain to the shoulder or arm. Remember that your head is bigger than you neck, so
accommodating both without distorting the position of your neck may require a special orthopedic pillow.

                               A. Healthy neck/pillow relationship
                      Fig A    B. Too small of a pillow
                               C. Too large of a pillow

                                              Back relief in the 90ο /90ο

                                 Technique for getting out or in bed with bad back

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