Desktop Ergonomics: Definition & Optimization

Instructor: LeRon Haire
The lesson will define the terms 'ergonomics' and 'desktop ergonomics' while discussing issues related with achieving optimal results. Included: monitor height and distance, chair height, desk height, and posture.

Move to Improve

Do you work at a computer desk all day? Maybe you study for exams, or use one in your job, or just spend a lot of time online? How you sit and where things are positioned is more important than you might think. Incorrect positioning can be a strain on various parts of you, possible injuring you, and making you less likely to be able to focus or be efficient.

The term ergonomics is the science or study of how a person's working environment and working conditions increases or decreases their work efficiency. When this is applied to desktop ergonomics, the term simply refers to how items that relate to a person's desktop affect their work efficiency. Let's take a look at just how you can set-up your personal work station to ergonomically optimize your work space.

Proper ergonomics at a desk.

Monitor Height and Distance

When speaking of desktop ergonomics, it is important to take a look around your current work space to see what can improve in order to help you become more productive. If you are sitting down at your desk, look straight ahead and many of you will see a computer monitor directly in front of you. However, depending on the set-up and positioning of your computer screen, you may not be optimizing the positioning to yield the best results. To find out, you will first want to determine if the distance between you and the monitor is appropriate.

To do so, sit back in your work chair and extend your arms. If the tip of your middle finger lands on the computer screen, then you have the appropriate distance. For those people with dual monitors, make sure that there are no visible gaps in between the monitors and then position the second monitor slightly off-center. Also, be sure that when placed in front of the monitor, the top line of print on the monitor is at or just below eye level.

Your Chair

Just as the monitor height is necessary for the optimal results with desktop ergonomics, so is the height and positioning of your work chair. When not properly paid attention to, the incorrect chair height may cause headaches (due to the position of viewing the screen) and even back issues.

When seated in your desktop work chair, it is important to make sure that your feet are placed flat on the floor with your thighs located under your hips. To achieve this, those with longer legs may need to adjust the height of the desk (which will be covered later in this lesson), while those with shorter legs may need to incorporate the use of a footrest.

When properly adjusted in your chair, there should be a two-four inch gap existing between the back of your knees and the front edge of the chair (if you are sitting with your back against the chair). Make sure the back of your chair slopes to match the curve of your back, and therefore provides lumbar support.

Another important component of proper chair adjustment are the armrests. When adjusted correctly, the arm rests should not interfere with the ability to use the keyboard. Keep your shoulders relaxed.

Desk Height

When adjusting your desk height to achieve the best results ergonomically, it is important to remember that when seated, you should not have to lean forward to use your keyboard or reach upwards to do so. These situations indicate that the height of your work desk needs an adjustment.

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