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For Use by UMKC Employees

Ergonomics can be described as the study of
adapting the environment to the individual.

The aim of ergonomics is to reduce the
amount of physical stress caused by
improper body mechanics, repetitive motor
movements, static positions, vibrations,
lighting and impact or contact with objects.

To modify our environment properly we
first need to identify the sources of physical
stress at the computer work station.
The Eyes
As we get older we tend to be more comfortable
focusing on objects further away.
While focusing on the monitor, we tend to blink
less, causing the eyes to dry out. This is especially
critical for those who wear contact lenses.
Glare or dirt on the screen makes it difficult to
focus and causes additional eye strain.

Static Positions

Static sitting positions, especially when
coupled with poor body mechanics, can
cause stress to the back, neck, shoulders and
Repetitive Motion
Repetitive fine motor movements related to
keyboarding have been associated with certain
medical conditions involving the hands, wrists,
thumbs and fingers.
Thresholds vary greatly between individuals before
pain or injury takes place, thus contributing to a
sense of complacency among some workers.
Workers should also examine activities outside of
the work environment when trying to limit
repetitive stress. Activities such as knitting,
playing musical instruments, painting and other
activities may also contribute to the total load of
repetitive motion.
Contact with Objects
Highly localized pressure caused by an
object against the body can cause numbness
and loss of blood circulation. Common
examples are across the back of the legs
from the edge of a chair, across the
forearms or at the elbows from leaning on a
table or desk, and on the inside of the wrists
from leaning on them while keyboarding.
Poor Body Mechanics

Awkward body positions can amplify stress
caused by repetitive motion, static positions
and pressure contacts with objects.
Intervention Strategies
Periodic mini-breaks from repetitive
movements allow the body to recuperate.
Work does not have to stop. Rather,
identify duties that do not require the same
type of effort and take a break by doing
something different.
A kitchen timer can be used as a reminder
to take a mini-break.
Intervention Strategies
For dry eyes, use an over-the-counter eye
lubricant (sometimes known as artificial
tears). Dont wait until your eyes begin to
burn, apply the eye drops each time you
take a mini-break. Avoid using eye drops
that get the red out. Prolonged use of this
type of eye drop can cause damage to the
Intervention Strategies
For those having difficulty seeing the
monitor screen with bi-focal or tri-focal
lenses, speak with your optometrist about a
pair of single vision lenses for use at the
computer. Take a measurement from the
bridge of your nose to the top line of the
monitor screen. Give this information to
your eye doctor.
Intervention Strategies
Proper posture and body mechanics can
reduce the amount of physical stress. At the
keyboard; adjustment of the seat height,
lumbar support, monitor height, monitor
distance, and mouse placement encourage
good posture and proper positioning of the
hand and wrists.
Intervention Strategies

If you regularly enter information while on
the telephone, consider a speaker phone or
headset telephone. Never cradle the phone
between your shoulder and ear.
Making the Adjustments
First, adjust the chair
height so that you can
reach the keyboard
with the upper arms
falling naturally by
your side and with
your forearm and
upper arm forming a
right angle.
Making the Adjustments
Adjust the lumbar
support so that it fits
into the curvature of
your back just above
the buttocks. Some
lumbar supports can
also be adjusted for
Making the Adjustments
The hand should extend
straight out from the
forearm. Place a pencil
across the back of the
hand. The pencil should
be able to lie nearly flat
across the back of the
hand. The pencil will also
help you see if you have
the hand turned out or
Making the Adjustments
This is known as
neutral positioning
of the hand. This
position allows for the
greatest amount of
room for tendons and
the median nerve that
run through the carpal
tunnel in your wrist.
Making the Adjustments
The mouse should be
placed as close to the
keyboard as possible.
Mouse platforms are
available that straddle the
far right side of the
keyboard. For those who
do not use the numeric
keypad, this may be a
viable option. Move the
mouse by using your
whole arm, not just your
Making the Adjustments
For those with normal
vision, the monitor should
be between 18 and 24
from your eyes. Those
with single vision glasses,
adjust the distance to your
comfort. The top line of
the monitor should be at
the same height as your
eyes. The monitor should
be tilted back slightly
(about 15 degrees from
Making the Adjustments

Those with bi-focal or tri-focal glasses must
approach monitor adjustment differently.

Making the Adjustments
First, lower your
head forward.
Slowly raise your
head until very
little effort is
required to hold
your head in
Making the Adjustments
Then, position the
monitor height and
distance so that you
can see the monitor
through the
appropriate lens
while your head is
in the low effort

Making the Adjustments
If you key from hard
copy material, use a
swing-arm copy
holder or position your
easel so that the hard
copy material is at
the same height and
distance as your
Making the Adjustments

Do not place the hard
copy material on the
flat desk and twist
your neck so that you
can read.
Making the Adjustments
It is important to have
your feet placed flat
on the floor. With
your feet flat on the
floor you are
anchored. This allows
you to push off,
keeping your torso up-
right so as to avoid
slouching or reclining.
If necessary, use a foot
rest to provide this
Making the Adjustments
Glare on the monitor
screen can be
eliminated by use of
drapes, placing the
screen at a 90 degree
angle from the light
source and use of a
glare hood or glare
screen. Avoiding light
colored clothes that
may reflect in the
screen can also help.
Keep the screen clean.
Purchasing Decisions

The chair is one of your most important
ergonomic purchases. The comfort and
adjustability of your chair will affect your
entire posture and body mechanics.
Purchasing Decisions
The seat pan should have a waterfall front edge.
Adjustments for both seat height and lumbar
support should be simple and easy to get to.
Avoid arm rests. Most are not well designed and
they tend to make it difficult to pull up close to the
The chair should have 5 casters for ease of
movement and stability.
The casters should be designed for the type of
floor surface on which they will roll.

Purchasing Decisions
The more you look at the monitor while
computing, the more you should consider a
larger monitor. The price differential
between a 15 monitor and 17 monitor is
quite small when compared to the overall
cost of a personal computer. Pixel size also
will affect the clarity of the screen images.
Smaller pixels = greater clarity.
Purchasing Decisions
In order to raise the monitor height, you can
use telephone books or other things around
the office to create a raised platform. There
are also inexpensive devices that can create
a raised platform with some offering storage
for diskettes, paper or other supplies you
might want to keep at hand.
Purchasing Decisions
The cost of split keyboards is now
comparable to the cost of replacement
keyboards. The broader your shoulders are
the more difficult it is to maintain your
hands and wrists in neutral position. Split
keyboards help some to attain neutral
positioning and reduce the micro traumas
associated with keyboarding.
Purchasing Decisions

If you have a computer workstation that will
be used by multiple people, an easily
adjustable chair is a must. You should also
consider a height adjustable table or a
keyboard tray that is height adjustable.
Treatment of Repetitive Stress
Do not try to self treat by purchasing over
the counter wrist splints. Wrist splints are
also known as occupational splits and are
designed for specific occupational duties.
Splints should be fitted by a physician and
are often used in conjunction with
medication. Early appropriate treatment is
important to avoid long term physical
Treatment of Repetitive Stress
If you believe that you are experiencing a
repetitive stress injury due to your work or
if your physician indicates that you have a
medical condition that is as a result of your
work, you should report this to your
supervisor immediately. Your supervisor
should complete a UMKC Report of
Employee Injury form.
The back should be vertical with the
shoulders positioned over the hips.
Support should be given to the lumbar curve
in the spine.
The head should be positioned so that it
rests comfortably over the spinal column.
Little effort should be necessary to maintain
the position.
The monitor and hard copy should be
placed directly in front of you.
The upper arms should hang naturally at your side.
Pull your chair up close to the keyboard so that
you can avoid reaching out for the keyboard.
The forearms and the upper arms should form a
right angle.
Your hands and wrists should be in neutral
Hips should be against the back of the seat.
Feet should be flat on the floor, not stretched out
or wrapped under.