We all know how important good posture is for our health and wellbeing, although it’s not always easy to remember that when we’re sitting in front of our computers concentrating on work for six or seven hours a day.
Working at a computer for long periods of time can lead to sprains and strains on your neck, back, shoulders and wrists, which can lead to long-term health problems. But there are many things you can do to make sure your workstation is designed to minimise these risks.
Safe Work Australia reports that work-related illnesses and injuries costs the Australian economy more than $60 billion per year. To lower stress and reduce chance of injuries developing over time, your work area should be ergonomically sound, customising it to fit you to provide support and comfort.
“There is certainly a transition to using ergonomic office equipment and a lot more awareness of its benefits,” says Steve O’Brien, owner of Newart Commercial Furniture, which has been supplying office furniture in Cairns since 2006. “It started with office chairs where the only ergonomic furniture in the office was the multi-function task chair and a footrest. Now there’s a huge range of ergonomic office equipment available.”
One of the newest trends in ergonomic furniture is stand-up or sit/stand desks, enabling you to change the height of the desk and alternate it for when you want to work sitting down or standing up.
“We’re getting a lot more requests for these stand-up desks now,” Steve says. “When they first came out, they had a mechanical hand winder, which was quite slow moving up and down, but now they have an electric drive and are much faster.”
There are three versions currently available – technician-only adjustable, hand wind or electric drive – so that you can change the height of the desk and alternate between sitting and standing. Complementing the stand-up desk are anti-fatigue mats, which take the pressure off of feet when standing.
“They even have some anti-fatigue mats that have massage balls on them, so you can massage your feet as you’re standing,” Steve adds.
While Steve and his team can give you all the information you need on the different types of ergonomic furniture and accessories available, Steve says individual workstations should be set up with the advice of an expert, such as an occupational therapist.
While there is a huge range of different chairs and desks, there’s also a large selection of accessories to help make your workstation more comfortable and safer. We look at five of the most useful ones.
Monitor arms gives the user the opportunity to adjust the height, depth and angle of their computer monitor. This helps make it easier to maintain good posture and helps remove the strain of sitting in a bent position looking at your computer screen. They are also perfect when you’re sharing a desk with someone else so you can adjust them to your specifications.
Footrests are a great way to keep pressure off your feet and legs while improving circulation and blood flow, which helps to relieve lower back pressure. There is a wide variety of footrests on the market, including rocking footrests and those that have massage nodules to help those tired feet.
Keyboard wrist rests are designed to support your wrists while you are typing, which alleviates pressure from your shoulders and helps prevent your wrists from unnaturally bending backwards. The pressure on the undersides of the wrists can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Our computer mouse probably gets used more than any other piece of office equipment. Ergonomic mice are designed to reduce wrist and forearm pain, which helps eliminate neck and shoulder aches. The ergonomic mouse better curves to fit your hand, which also helps reduce strain on your fingers and joint pain.
Computer monitor glare fliter
The glare reflecting from overhead lights and side windows can cause computer eye strain. A monitor glare filter reduces the amount of light reflecting off your computer. They are especially useful if your desk is in close proximity to a window.
There are more different ergonomic office accessories available, such as keyboard arms, document holders, wrist support gloves and keyboard trays. To learn more, talk to the office furniture specialists, like Steve and his team at Newart Commercial Furniture.