Whether we like it or not, sitting down at a computer is now a daily part of modern life. And it’s a big part. People tied to their workstations can easily spend twelve hours sitting at their desk with just a few breaks in between. Go home and the serious gamer could probably make a twelve hour session look like a coffee break. The point is, we can spend a very long time sitting in more or less the same position, so if you don’t get it right, you could find yourself in a pretty bad shape. A poorly equipped workstation with a dodgy chair is the fast track to living a painful working life that could follow you into retirement.
So before you sit down, think ergonomics…
In the above illustration you can see an office worker whose posture looks correct – after all, we were all told to sit up straight, right? Well, sitting upright increases pressure on the spine and pelvis which can lead to back pain. Our office worker should be using the back support of the chair at an angle just past 90 degrees – pushing her shoulders against the chair will transfer some of her upper body weight before it starts building up in the lower spine…so, in other words, make sure that chair is working for you, not the other way around. Her keyboard should be lower so the wrists do not sit below the fingers. And she should be able to view her monitor without cricking her neck while sitting back against her chair…so, in this case, it’s just about right. We can’t see them, but her feet should be flat on the floor with her knees at just over a ninety degree angle.
In the end, that office chair is going to break or make her, so when yours needs replacing don’t fob it off, make the boss get you a new one because you’re not buying an office chair, you are renting the time you have it. An employee with a bad back is an employee who is unproductive, so be certain to get the point across. And if you can, stick with the industry standard from the olden days (the 1980s) when telephonists (that’s a call centre employee for the whipper snappers out there) were allowed 25-minutes on and a five minute break to stand and walk around. Work may have changed, but our bodies haven’t.
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