Ergonomics done right.®
September 18th, 2015

The Optimal Office Webinar Q & A

We had a great turnout for our webinar this week, and received more questions than we could address during the event. Below are the responses by our presenters, Susan Shaw, CPE and Michael Hoonhorst, CPE.

Q: Should my keyboard have a negative tilt?_DSC4988-1c
A: Yes, the negative tilt encourages the wrists to stay in a neutral/straight posture while keying. At a minimum, retract the keyboard ‘feet’ on the back, to avoid wrist extension.

Q: Do you recommend alternating hand use with the mouse?
A: We recommend alternating the mouse to lower repletion on the same hand, but for some that is difficult, so we tell people to place their phone on the non-dominant hand side. This also encourages neutral neck posture while one hand holds the phone and the dominant hand takes notes, as necessary.

Q: Do you recommend 2-3 finger breadths from the edge of the seat pan to the back of the legs (for optimal seat pan depth)?
A: Yes, that is exactly correct. Too much space and there is unnecessary stress on the lower back. Too little space and the chair will rub on the back of the legs or not allow the user to sit all the way back in his seat.

Q: Do you recommend alternating feet on a footrest/bar while standing?
A: Yes, the change in posture encourages blood flow and minimizes fatigue. Alternatively, look into an anti-fatigue mat while standing; this will need to be moved when sitting to allow the chair to roll.

Q: Do trackballs put more stress on one body part?
A: There are many types of trackball mice, some that use the thumb and others that use fingers. Both require frequent movements of the digits, which can increase some stress, but your fingers and thumbs were designed for frequent movement. The key is to minimize soft tissue compression on the base of the hand or wrist, so don’t rest your wrist while using a mouse or typing.

Q: I thought split keyboards help with deviations in the wrist when using the keyboard.
A: Yes they do, especially for those with broad shoulders. Split keyboards allow the user to key with his wrists straight instead of in an ulnar deviation.

Q: What are the benefits to using yoga ball chairs, and are there any issues to be concerned about with them?
A: Yoga balls are not recommended for long-term use, such as 8-10 hours as an office chair. Not only do they pose a safety risk of rolling out from under you or popping, but they require you to use your core muscles all day long. As these muscles fatigue there is no back support, so users end up slouching on the ball.

Q: When does worker comfort come into play?
A: Employee comfort is key throughout the process. If the worker isn’t comfortable, his performance/efficiency decreases. Having a chair, monitor, desk, etc. that adjusts to the employee ensures he can be comfortable and productive.

Q: It’d be great to hear a bit on laptops and posture when traveling or not in the office, such as at an airport, or café.
A: Have external equipment available. A mouse fits easily in your bag, but try to include a travel keyboard. If you have both the mouse and keyboard, raise your laptop up on a few books to bring the screen to a better height or add a light-weight laptop stand.