Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ergonomics at the workplace

Wikipedia defines the term ergonomics as: Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with designing according to human needs, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. The field is also called human engineering, and human factors. [link:]

We see ergonomics everywhere these days, one of the places we see it the most is in the chairs and seats we use, be it car seats... and myself being a bike rider, how can I forget the utterly comfortable seat of Bullet motorcycles, the shape and the design of the set is simply wonderful... *Ahem* this entry is about workplace, so bikes for a later day...

Anyway, getting to the point, we spend a lot of time at the office, in front of the computer screen, small things like the lighting of the room, the way our hands are positioned on the keyboard etc. play an important part in our comfort and when this goes goes down adds to the stress and strain... reducing productivity and efficiency...

So here are a few tips to optimize the ergonomics at the work place. Just one thing to point out, ergonomics encompass a lot of aspects, this one is related to the monitor and lighting.

  1. Distance between eyes and the screen: 2 feet - roughly an arms length.

    There are a lot of theories regarding this, but in my opinion the ideal distance should be around 2 feet or more... roughly at the distance of an arm's length...

    Try a simple experiment to see the strain on your eyes while concentrating at something very close to you. Hold out your arm and look at the fingers, now just move the arm towards you, concentrating on the finger, you'll see how the strain affects your eyes.

  2. Positioning the screen: such a way that you look down at the screen.

    This actually serves two purposes - 1. eyes are most comfortable while viewing objects at an angle - between 15 degrees to 40 degrees below the horizontal, and 2. it is easier on the neck.

    Thus try to position the screen in such a way that you are not looking straight at the screen but at an angle below your eyes.

  3. Tilt of the screen: top of the screen slightly farther than the bottom.

    Tilt the screen such that the top of the screen is slightly farther than than the bottom, this would been that when you are reading on the screen, your eyes are moving down in an arc thereby keeping the distance from the eyes more or less the same.

  4. Office lighting: indirect lighting, reduce glare and reflection.

    In the office, have lighting that is indirect, and as far as possible, try to avoid direct light. And one very important point - do not have any source of light which creates a reflection from the screen of the computer.

  5. Choosing screen colours: dark letters on lighter background.

    While we do a lot of reading, we often find it easier to read text which is darker in colour on a lighter background, than a text and background of similar colour, the reason is contrast, also with a lighter background, the difference in contrast between the screen and the reflection off it is reduced.
All for now, I hope to put some images regarding these as well as more ergonomics at the workplace... Till next time...

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