Ergonomics has become a more widely used and better understood word in recent years than ever before. It is, in simplest terms, the study of the relationship between individuals and their working environment. Since the industrial revolution, when workers were treated as little more than a disposable commodity with relatively few rights and limited health and safety protections, the relationship between employees and their employers has evolved enormously.

Employers today are more conscious than ever of the need to provide a safe and healthy working environment. There is legislation that must be adhered to and the potential for expensive and embarrassing legal proceedings when things go wrong. More important, however, is the fact that it is quite simply the right and moral thing to do. The best employers know this and invest sufficient resources to make sure they get it right. Employees are also aware of this and more than ever are holding their employers, and themselves, to account.

We spend a remarkable amount of time at work, and increasing numbers of us now do so primarily at a computer. This seems like an inherently safe place to be compared to a factory or a farm. In reality however, the risks are still significant and all the more dangerous for being less visible.

Here are a few of the key things that are absolutely critical to get right in order to avoid serious long-term health risks.

  • Start by identifying your natural posture. Sit down, get comfortable and make a note of how you are positioned. This physical alignment is best for your back and your breathing, so you should have a seat that encourages and supports this. Your back should be supported, your knees a few inches from the edge of the seat, your thighs just below your hips and your feet flat on the floor. Invest in a footrest if you need to.
  • Set your screen up so that it is roughly an arm’s length away, with the very top just above your eye-line. You should not need to move your neck around to easily read the text on screen. Avoid glare and reflection by controlling the light in the room. It is possible to purchase really premier quality blinds to help you achieve the right balance between enough natural light without the glare.
  • Desk layout. Keep everything within easy reach and in the right places to prevent yourself from coming too far out of your natural posture. Your keyboard and mouse should be shoulder distance apart and a couple of inches above your thigh. Finally, try to keep your desk as clear and uncluttered as possible.

Our workspaces are changing all the time, and thanks to the remarkable evolution of online technology, the line between home and office is more blurred than ever. More and more people are working remotely and setting up workspaces in their own homes. The risks here are even greater, as we are even more inclined to neglect the good practices that we are encouraged to adopt.

By thinking through each element of your workspace, wherever it might be, it is possible to create a safe and comfortable environment that enables maximum productivity without risking your health.

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