Computer Ergonomics

The following are guidelines for effective and pain-free computer use :

  • Align the chair, body, keyboard, and monitor
  • Ensure that wrists are in a "neutral" position (e.g. straight line from forearms through wrists) by adjusting height of typing surface and/or height of chair seat
  • Minimize reach to pointing device (mouse, trackball, etc)
  • Minimize glare from windows and light fixtures
  • Provide a foot rest if feet don't reach the floor
Improper Computer Ergonomics  Proper Computer Ergonomics
Improper Computer Ergonomics Proper Computer Ergonomics

The most obvious problems come when computers are used in work areas not designed for computers. Desks designed for paperwork most often have surfaces which are too high to be comfortable for a keyboard and mouse.  Monitors and keyboards are often placed to make room for paperwork, or to make it easier to serve customers across the desk, and are therefore at awkward angles for computer use. 

Keyboard trays can help to a certain extent to bring the keyboard down to a useable level. However, they force the user to sit further back from the desk, which may make it more difficult to use phones and to reach other items on the desk.

Other tools are available to help improve the ergonomics of the work space. One option is to replace standard keyboards with ergonomic keyboards (such as the Microsoft Natural Keyboard), or to replace a mouse with a trackball, a track pad, or a trackpoint located on the keyboard. Replacing the deep CRT monitors with flat panels may make it easier to position the computer more comfortably on the desk.

For a list of suggestions for improving the ergonomics of the workplace, visit