Health Topics Information

Ergonomics: at work and beyond

Ergonomics: at work and beyond

The dictionary definition of ergonomics is “designing a job to fit the worker so the work is safer, more efficient, and more productive”. These same principles are important in every part of our lives! People come in different shapes and sizes - if you have needed to adjust the seat and mirrors getting into a vehicle (after another driver) you have applied ergonomic principles.

Many people think of office and computer settings for ergonomic interventions but all work settings (construction, manufacturing, health care, etc.) have unique needs. North Dakota WSI has a nationally respected Grant Program to assist you with cost sharing for consultation, education for your company and purchasing recommended/approved equipment.

For more information CLICK!

Did you know that most office, other work stations, home equipment and furniture is designed around a 5’10” person? Ergonomic goals are to help the tall person fit and help the short person reach.

There are the major areas to consider:

  1. Promote neutral positions with support for body/limbs
  2. Promote physical movement
  3. Promote working in reach zone
  4. Provide correct workstations, tools and equipment
  5. Promote health and wellness

When assessing office/sitting work there are three primary areas of contact that affect your posture: your seat (chair), the work surface (most commonly desktop or keyboard), the floor (or perhaps a footrest). To ensure the most comfortable posture possible, two of these factors have to be adjustable. If you can afford to do nothing else, a fully adjustable chair is a priority.

Sit to Stand workstations have become popular but unless you are able to budget for a fully adjustable desk, be aware that there is not a good “one size fits all” for converting a standard desk. An adjustable conversion piece that sits on the work surface has potential to make a “too high” surface even higher for anyone of shorter stature reaching. Check the manufacturer range adjustment and user height recommendations.

And finally, take opportunity to move whenever possible. Fitness software can be helpful or if you are at a desk, set a reminder in your electronic calendar repeating every 30 to 45 minutes. This LINK can help you look at your lifestyle and consider potential changes.


(Jeanne Dekrey, PT, DPT, PRC, is the ergonomics coordinator at CHI St. Alexius Health Human Performance Center.)