Ergonomics in the Office

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: August 25, 2016

Most people falsely assume that office work is not physically stressful or could possibly contribute to the development of an injury. But data indicates that a large number of musculoskeletal injuries (MSDs) that occur in the United States each year are the result of performing office-related tasks.

The majority of discomfort and repetitive stress injuries in the office environment can be avoided through the application of sound ergonomic principals. A simple definition of ergonomics is “fitting the job to the person not the person to the job.” Understanding what is contributing to discomfort and how to adjust each work area is key to reducing or eliminating problems.

Frequent complaints among computer users include: pain, discomfort, tingling and loss of strength. One of the most common areas of discomfort among computer users is the neck. This can be related to improper positioning of the monitor, keeping the head turned to view a document, or positioning the neck to use bifocals. All of these tasks can produce some form of neck pain. Other areas of discomfort include: low back pain, headaches, wrist and elbow pain. The work should be evaluated to determine what is contributing to the discomfort; ergonomic intervention may prove helpful.

Most people assume ergonomics in the office means buying expensive devices. This is not necessarily the case. Many times, current office equipment can be utilized by repositioning it, adjusting the height or angle, or moving frequently used items closer to the operator. When purchasing “ergonomic” equipment, assure that the equipment will eliminate the problem and not just clutter the desktop. The device that costs the most or has the most buttons may not be the correct choice to reduce an ergonomic issue.

Tips to Avoid Injury:

  • Frequently used equipment should be placed close to avoid unnecessary reaching
  • Adjust chair appropriately
  • Get up from your chair after every 45 minutes of continuous sitting
    (walk to deliver a message to a co-worker or stand while on the phone)
  • Reduce awkward postures, i.e., holding telephone receiver with the neck
  • Avoid contact stress on body parts, i.e., wrist on the edge of the desk
  • Change your visual focus every 20 minutes to avoid eye fatigue
  • Proper lighting reduces errors, eye fatigue and inefficiency
  • Remember to stretch throughout your workday

BeneFIT Corporate Wellness can assist your company with educating employees about ergonomics in the office. For more information, please contact us.


Holly Ehrenfried OTR/L CHT, Program Coordinator,
Industrial Rehabilitation of Lehigh Valley Health Network

Disclaimer: The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of a physician. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to a physician. 

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