‘Ergonomics’ is commonly referred to as the ‘human factors’.
It is a scientific discipline which is concerned with the application of physical and physiological principles of the Human body to the design and engineering of products and systems.
It basically deals with understanding the interaction between humans and other of elements of the system.
It designs methods and other principles to increase well being of humans and give out great performance keeping in mind the safety and comfort of humans.
It leaves little choice for human error and increases productivity.
After all, man is like a biological machine and to ensure top performance from this machine, we need to use it well and understand how to do be able to it.
What is Laptop Ergonomics?
Laptop ergonomics basically deals with physical ergonomics. It is the science of designing human interaction with a laptop to fit the user.
There should be a complete fit between the user, the equipment, and the environment.
If you don’t have this ergonomic balance, this can cause work-related injury.
One of the most common work-related injury being a musculoskeletal disorder which results in continuous pain, loss of functional capacity, and works disability.
Benefits of Good Laptop Ergonomics
- It helps avoid repetitive stress injuries that are caused by little movements that we perform over and over again when working with our laptop.
- It results in better concentrations and improved productivity as we can sit without our body rebelling in the form of aches and pains.
- It protects one’s health without having to compromise on workstyles.
- Minimal risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
- It yields in stable employment. In America alone 1.8 million every year become sick due to occupational hazards leading to injury.
Laptop Ergonomic Tips
Now let me share some useful tips on how to adopt Laptop ergonomics and make the most of it.
Aim for the Correct Posture
It is very important to have correct postures to work comfortably without injury and increase efficiency and output at work.
- Keep your back straight and recline a bit. It is recommended to keep it at 110 degrees for a good lower back health. Keep neck in neutral position. It should be looking neither up nor down but straight.
- Keep your shoulders and upper arms relaxed and elbows near your body bent at 90-degree angle.
- Keep forearms parallel to the floor.
- Keep the wrists straight while using a keypad. The keypad should not be above the straight wrist position nor below it but exactly at a level in alignment with the wrist.
- If possible, use an additional keyboard so you can place it at any favorable angle without having to look down at the screen attached to the laptop keyboard.
- It is a good idea to separate the screen from the keyboard so that when the screen is viewed, the eyes should be in line 2-3 inches below the top border of the screen. If that is not possible then place the laptop on stands so that it raises in height and use an additional keyboard.
- While sitting on a chair, your thighs should rest horizontally with 90-110 angle at the hips. Keep feet flat on the floor or use a footrest.
Below is the graphic image of how to correct your posture:
Using the Right Chair
Having a good chair is essential to work in a comfortable way. The chair should have the following requirements
- Should be able to tilt forward and backward to adjust our spine.
- Should be able to adjust the height for correct posture.
- It should have a five-point base which is sturdy. It is less likely to tip over.
- The chair should have a rounded edge so that it does not pinch on the inner thighs and knee.
- The fabric of the chair should not be slippery.
- The chair should have an adjustable backrest to support the lower back and pelvis.
- It should follow the natural curve of the spine.
- For better support to lower back, one can keep a foam pillow or rolled up towel.
- If your feet don’t touch the ground, use a good wide footrest with an inclined slope. It should not be slippery or movable. Inclination helps relax the feet and takes off pressure from the inner thigh.
- Use a good armrest to take pressure off shoulders and back. It helps to support forearms and elbows. In case it interferes with using a laptop or the mouse, you can skip this.
- There should be sufficient space between the top of your thigh and the bottom of the table. Adjust seat height accordingly.
Using the Right Workstation Accessories
You can easily make your workstation more ergonomic by using the right accessories and using these in the right way.
- Make sure your keyboard is placed in a position so that your wrists are straight while typing.
- Use a palm support to rest your palms on in between of typing.
- Try split, angled or keyboards with alternative key arrangements for better comfort.
- If you are using a laptop with an external mouse, make sure the mouse is on a flat surface within reach and as close to the keyboard as possible. We recommend getting an ergonomic mouse for the minimum strain on your wrists.
- Keep your wrists straight while using a mouse.
- Keep a lot of free space to move your mouse. Your whole arm should move while moving mouse rather than wrist movement. Alternatively, you can get an ergonomic ball mouse that doesn’t need to be moved.
- If you’re using any other pointing device keep the wrist straight.
- While typing from documents, place it at a height of the screen and right in front of you with help of document holders.
- Use a headset or speakerphone if you use a phone regularly. It will prevent you from reaching out repeatedly.
Organizing Your Workstation
Some minor changes in how your workstation is set up can have a significant impact on the ergonomics of it.
- Keep everything you frequently use as close to you as possible. It will save time and help avoid repetitive movements.
- Organise your workspace into zones. You can have an ‘Important’ or ‘Primary’ zone which should have everything you frequently need close to you (within 30 cms).
- Place the items that you occasionally use in the next zone. For example, if you need to use a pen and a diary often, you can place it closeby.
- Your Work table should be clean and sturdy for increasing efficiency. Don’t clutter below the workstations as you need free leg movement
- It is better to place everything close by and store the less frequently used items in drawers which are within reach so one doesn’t have to twist and turn while retrieving items of interest. You can consider getting yourself an ergonomic computer desk, to begin with.
Making Sure Light and Vision Setup is Correct
If you work with a laptop for long stretches, you need to make sure you the light settings are conducive to it.
Also, since we tend to blink less when we work with computers (and even mobile screens), a bad lighting setup can quickly strain the eyes.
Below are some tips to make help you get more ergonomic while working:
- Wear prescription glasses made especially for working with laptops.
- Remember to blink more often.
- Try gazing at distance objects once in a while. This helps frequently change the focus of our eyes from close by objects to far off objects. In case you sit close to a window, it’s a good idea to stare outside every once in a while.
- Place the monitor at one arm’s distance from your face.
- Use anti-glare shields on monitors.
- Ideal workstations are placed between rows of lights to avoid glare. You can also adjust the brightness and contrast on your screen to minimize glare.
- If high overhead light causes problems, use diffusers or dim lights.
- Use lamps for writing documents once the lights are low.
Taking Frequent Breaks and Pauses
Working non-stop is likely to make you feel tired and worn out by the end of the day.
Here are some tips to keep the energy high throughout the day:
- It is important to take breaks. Arrange your schedule so that you can manage time and take regular breaks without compromising the work efficiency.
- Take micro pauses while working. A micro pause is a pause which can be from 20 seconds to 2 mins. During this micro-pause, you can stare away from your screen, stand and take a walk, take a sip of water.
- If you start becoming tired and feel some soreness in the muscles, it is time for that micro pause.
- It is important to know never to remain static for a long period of time so muscles don’t get tired.
Including Exercise in your Routine
It is very important in our everyday office environment to stay fit as most of our work is done sitting on workstations:
- Change positions frequently. If possible alternate between sitting and standing. You can also consider getting a standing desk (which is what I use).
- Try and do some light stretches or exercise (a few times a week) to ensure a healthy blood supply to muscles.
- Look for simple ways to have light physical activity at work. For example, if it’s only a couple of floors, take the stairs. Walk up to a water cooler which is farther from your desk to get some extra steps.
- Remember good exercise activities after work will help counter the negative effects of workstations and laptops. Walking regularly can help improve physical as well as mental well-being.
You don’t need to make huge investments or changes in the way you currently work. Small changes can help drastically improve your work style and make it more ergonomic.
To summarize, below are the major points covered in this article:
- Keep your posture correct to avoid injury
- Have a good chair with ergonomic requirements
- Workstation accessories should suit users need.
- Workstation arrangements should be within reach of the user for maximum efficiency
- Appropriate light and vision required for working on laptops
- Take mini-breaks and micropauses in between for better work output
- Exercise daily to negate the ill effects of working on computers.
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