Improving Home Workstation Health

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With so many people now working from home, alongside the benefits, many of us are also adjusting to the myriad of new challenges brought about by these changed circumstances.

  • Do you have aches and pains at the end of the workday?
  • Are you now suffering from specific, or moderate to severe, pains that you never had before?
  • Do you think that the set-up of your home workstation could be contributing to these pains?

It is no secret that spending too much time sitting at a workstation is not good for your health.  Poor posture and back/spine concerns are common; poor habits become just that, and reversing them takes a long time. Doctors and Chiropractors are now starting to see conditions, previously almost solely the affliction of older people, such as the Kyphosis, otherwise known as “dowagers hump” whereby the spine develops a painful, often permanent curvature – now becoming prevalent amongst younger generations. Poor posture has also been linked to other, often surprising conditions:

  • Incontinence: poor posture promotes stress incontinence — when you leak a little urine if you laugh or cough. Slouching increases abdominal pressure, which puts pressure on the bladder.
  • Heartburn and slowed digestion: slouched posture after a meal can trigger heartburn caused by acid reflux. 
  • Moodiness, uneven sleep patterns, and feelings of fatigue during the day. 

Taking the time to understand the right way to set up your home workstation could well make a significant difference to your health and comfort.

The position of your monitor

  1. Place the monitor in a location that eliminates glare on the screen. This reduces the potential for eyestrain and also the need to adopt awkward positions to read the screen. 
  2. Place the monitor directly in front of you. Placing the monitor directly in front of you prevents twisting your head and neck.
  3. Place the top line of the screen at or slightly (0-30 degrees) below eye level. If the monitor is too low, you will need to crane your neck forward; if it’s too high, you’ll tilt your head backward.
  4. Place the monitor at least an arm’s length away from you. The monitor should be at a comfortable distance away from you, allowing you to view the entire screen with a little twisting of your head and neck. 

The placement of your mouse and keypad

  1. Keyboards should be at the same level or height as your elbow.
  2. Slant the keyboard at a similar angle to your forearms to enable wrists to remain straight/unbent whilst working.
  3. The mouse and keyboard should be close to the front of the desk — or farther away if the desk’s height is above elbow level. 
  4. The mouse should be used in conjunction with a wrist pad, providing proper support to your wrist.

The positioning of your chair at your desk

  1. Choose chairs with seats that are tilted slightly downward. This design can help relieve any pressure on the spine. 
  2. Chairs should provide lumbar support so that when you are typing on your computer, there will be enough support on the lower back to prevent slouching.
  3. The back of the seats should allow the knees to clear the front of the seat pan. 
  4. Correct seat height is achieved when your feet are lying flat on the floor and hips are on the same level as their knees.

Other tips

  1. Avoid phone strain. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, try exchanging your handset for a headset.
  2. Repeatedly cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder can strain the muscles in your neck.
  3. Take regular breaks, try doing some neck rolls or shoulder presses to relieve tension. 
  4. Frequent short breaks are better for your back than fewer long ones. It gives the muscles a chance to relax while others take the strain.
  5. Don’t sit in the same position for too long. Make sure you change your posture as often as is practicable.
  6. Position frequently used objects, such as your telephone or stationery supplies, within easy reach. Avoid repeatedly stretching or twisting to reach things. 

In addition to being good for your health, setting up a proper home workstation also boosts your productivity levels by recreating that office-like feeling. If you own a business or manage a team, you can help your employees and co-workers by sharing these tips with them. 

If your company is in the UAE and needs professional safety and health consultancy, contact the HSE experts at Corporate OHS. You can visit our website or request more information via enquiries@corporateohs.com.

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