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Supportive ergonomic positioning

Supportive ergonomic positioning is key to managing challenges such as fatigue, pain, weakness, and range-of-motion limitations. Poor positioning can limit your ability to complete your job tasks.

As a workplace accommodation, positioning can be a key factor in how long you can sustain a task and what kinds of adaptive technology you need. Proper ergonomic positioning tailors your workstation to your needs. This tailoring, in turn, can improve the safety, efficiency of how you perform job tasks and the quality of the tasks’ outputs.

Finding proper ergonomic positioning can often be one of the most challenging and important aspects of workplace accommodation. This makes getting a professional’s recommendation very important. The professional will look at the following aspects of positioning:

1. Chair

Pick a chair with armrests that you can adjust to meet your specific needs. Adjustments include but are not limited to seat height, seat depth, backrest height, and armrest height and position. Proper positioning should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Here is a general checklist:

  • Feet flat on the floor or on a footrest
  • Knees at an approximately 90-degree angle
  • Thighs parallel to the floor
  • Back touching the backrest of the chair
  • 2-4 finger-width space between the edge of the seat and back of the knees
  • Lumbar support of the backrest fits the natural curve of the lower back
  • Armrests supporting forearms
  • Shoulders relaxed
  • Elbows at an approximately 90-degree angle

2. Keyboard and mouse

Position the keyboard and mouse so that your neck, back, and shoulders are supported. Proper positioning should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Here is a general checklist:

  • Elbows at a 90-degree angle
  • Forearms supported by armrests
  • Elbows relaxed when using the keyboard and mouse

3. Monitor(s)

Proper positioning should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Here is a general checklist:

  • Head in a neutral position
  • If one monitor, it is directly in front of the user, approximately an arm’s length away
  • If dual monitors, they may need to be placed slightly farther back
  • Far right and left ends of dual monitors are angled toward the user to form a ‘V’ shape
  • The top third of the text on the screen is in the person’s direct line of sight

4. Telephone

Proper positioning should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Here is a general checklist:

  • Avoid holding the telephone between the ear and shoulder
  • Use a headset if the telephone is used frequently

5. Frequently used materials or equipment

Proper positioning should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Here is a general checklist:

  • Place frequently used materials and equipment within reach
  • Choose materials with ergonomic features, such as pens with cushion grips and low-pressure staplers

6. Paper documents

Proper positioning should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Here is a general checklist:

  • Put frequently referred to documents in a document holder
  • Place filing cabinets high enough to reduce bending or reaching
  • Choose filing-cabinet drawers that are easy to open and close