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Ergonomics | Office safety | Worker health and wellness | Injury prevention | Musculoskeletal disorders
WORKPLACE ERGONOMICS

Office worker ergonomics

Safety+Health shares – in pictures – how the National Safety Council conducts ergonomics assessments of workers’ desks and chairs to help prevent MSDs.

March 1, 2014

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Musculoskeletal disorders accounted for one-third of all injury or illness cases in the United States in 2011, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Among office clerks, receptionists and administrative support workers, 4,050 MSD cases – including carpal tunnel syndrome and injuries to the neck, shoulder and back – required a median range of 11 to 16 days away from work to recover.

The National Safety Council conducts routine ergonomics assessments of NSC office workstations – including those of remote workers. The following pictorial, featuring NSC employees, depicts an abbreviated ergonomics assessment that can be conducted at a typical office workstation. As with all aspects of ergonomics, no “one-size-fits-all” body position or arrangement of items exists – worker needs may differ from what is shown.

Chair adjustments

An employee should be shown how to adjust his or her chair, which initially should be adjusted to a position that is comfortable but does not strain the joints or muscles.

Click on a tab to view the illustrated recommendation.

Adjust the seat back and seat pan until the lower back is supported and the back of the employee’s legs are not feeling too much pressure.

Maneuver the armrests so the elbows are close to the body – not pushed upward – and are roughly in line with the shoulders (depending on the employee’s preferred sitting posture).

Raise or lower the chair so the employee’s feet are fully supported by the floor or a footrest while allowing enough room between the top of the upper legs and the workstation.

Photos: Ian Palmer
Special thanks to Susan Evangelou and Al Legoo

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