conduct your own ergonomic risk assessment

Over the years, ergonomic risk has become an increasingly significant concern in the workplace. As we spend prolonged hours at our workstations, it is crucial to assess the potential risks associated with our workplace from an ergonomic perspective and how making a few improvements may positively affect our well-being.

To conduct your own ergonomic risk assessment, consider the following eight questions:

  • Are your hips positioned at a 90–120-degree angle while seated, with feet flat on the floor or foot rest?
  • Can you adjust the height and angle of your monitor, keyboard, and chair as needed?
  • Is it feasible for you to incorporate periodic standing breaks while continuing to work?
  • Is the top of your monitor or laptop screen aligned with your eye level?
  • Is your screen positioned at a minimum distance of 50 cm (20 inches) from your eyes?
  • Are your wrists able to maintain a flat position while typing?
  • Are your shoulders relaxed, with your upper arms parallel to your torso?
  • Are your most frequently used items easily within reach without straining or stretching?

By encouraging ourselves and others around us to consider these questions and make adjustments, you can promote a safer and more ergonomic work environment for everyone and start to understand the daily ergonomic strains we place on ourselves.

Now that we have identified various sources of stress, it's time to explore different options to alleviate and manage stress effectively. 

Are your chairs adequately adjustable?

To prioritise sitting comfort, it is essential to have chairs with adjustable features. These adjustable features should include armrests, backrests, and seat height. By using chairs with these adjustable options, we can personalise seating positions to achieve proper hip and leg alignment, as well as maintain relaxed shoulders. This level of adjustability promotes ergonomic support and allows us to find the most comfortable and supportive posture for our work tasks. Chairs support can be different for everyone as we all have unique body types, work tasks and different ergonomic considerations to take into account. Testing a range of office chairs can help find what best works for you.

Can you work while standing up for small intervals?

While certain job positions naturally involve regular standing and movement, others, such as programmers or web developers, predominantly work seated at their computers. In such cases, it is crucial to find ways for everyone to periodically stand up and stretch. You can suggest that your employer consider implementing strategies such as conducting meetings while standing or providing you and others with sit/stand desks, allowing everyone the flexibility to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the workday. These initiatives promote better posture, reduce the risk of prolonged sitting-related health issues, and encourage movement for general well-being.

Can your monitors adjust its height?

It is vital to position computer monitors so that the top of the monitor is at eye level to prevent neck strain and shoulder hunching. While a stack of printer paper or a few heavy books may suffice, consider utilising monitor stands as these stands contribute to a more ergonomic posture by allowing everyone to adjust the monitor levels to the suitable eye level especially for monitors that cannot adjust high or low enough.  This helps remove hunched postures that can occur with computer monitors placements being either too far, too close, or incorrect height.

Can you support your wrists when typing?

Ensuring proper wrist support during typing is crucial to prevent strains and repetitive strain injuries (RSI). One effective solution is to incorporate an ergonomic keyboard to your workspace. These keyboards are specifically designed to minimize strain on the wrists while typing, offering a comfortable and supportive typing experience.

However, if budget constraints limit the option of ergonomic keyboards, an alternative product is a wrist pads or also called palm rests. Wrist pads can be used to support the wrists during typing or provide relief during breaks from typing. While not as comprehensive as ergonomic keyboards, they still offer support and comfort to mitigate potential strain on the wrists.

Storage options for easier access of items on your desk.

To mitigate the risk of bending, twisting, or stretching excessively to access frequently used items, it is important to have storage solutions. Consider drawer units or sorting trays to increase accessibility and organisation within your workspace. These storage options can help keep most used items within easy reach, reducing the need for unnecessary physical strain while reducing desk clutter at the same time.

How Ergonomic solutions help prevent discomfort.

Understanding the limitations of ergonomic solutions is crucial in managing discomfort. While incorporating ergonomic accessories alone may not provide a complete cure, they play a vital role in promoting proper posture and alignment to prevent further discomfort.
If you are currently experiencing aches and pains, it is advisable to consult a medical professional for personalised guidance. However, incorporating ergonomic products into your workstation can significantly contribute to preventing and reducing discomfort caused by poor posture and alignment.
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