UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Ergonomics 101

100610Feature_ErgonomicsIs your chair adjusted so that your feet are flat on the ground? Is there a 2 inch space between the front of the seat and the back of your knee when sitting? Is the computer monitor directly in front of you when in use? Is the monitor located 28-36 inches away from your face?

When Todd Beck (in visual) visits an office for an ergonomics check-up, these will be among the things he usually looks for. They are part of a computer workstation self-inspection checklist his department distributes.

Beck is industrial hygiene coordinator at the Department of Environmental Health and Safety. Commonly he will visit an office for one individual, and a person in the next office or work station will also want an assessement. Soon a half-dozen in the office want the same. But often he can get to them all.

“You get a lot of enjoyment. You get immediate feedback. [You hear things such as] ‘That does feel better’ or ‘That’s a better set-up.’

“We want to be proactive,” he said. He encourages the campus community to consider ergonomics when they get set up with a new office. “We’re a service to the university – we want to make sure you’re set up correctly.”

He stresses that his department helps employees doing all sorts of work and tasks – whether in front of a computer, cleaning, using motor equipment or other types of work.

Beck has a BS degree in occupational safety and is a Board Certified Safety Professional (CSP).

Think about ergonomics, he says, in regards to how you interact with your work. Be considerate of body positions. And if you need some help from others or some mechanical help, get it.

Chairs are often a point of discussion. His department even has a few in their front office that can be used to demonstrate good ways to make adjustments and achieve proper fit.

“The chair set-up is often an issue,” he says, explaining that it often comes down to some simple adjustments that need to be made using the existing chair features.

One person he sees may be 5 feet, 2 inches. Another may be 6 feet, 1 inch. “We’re very different in dimensions.” The chair is only one aspect of the equation, he explains. “It’s all about the adjustability of the workstation.”

Generally, when a person is sitting at a computer, he likes to see “nice, 90 degree angles” on their body, he says. And he likes to see the mouse on the same plane as the keyboard.

“People can be more efficient if they’re in a good position when they do their work,” he says.

For information on ergonomics at work, OSHA offers a great web site, he says. It is www.osha.gov. There’s an A-Z index, including a web page on Computer Workstations.

Those with questions may contact Todd Beck at todd_beck@uncg.edu.

By Mike Harris
Photography by Mike Harris