PCs

Workstation pretzel


No, no -- this isn't a snack entry. And if it were, believe

me, pretzels would be near the bottom of my list, between Funyuns and rice cakes, maybe. It's about ergonomics and the

lack thereof. I just realized I'm sitting in this crappy old chair all twisted

and contorted to work around my overloaded desk and breaking every rule of how

to arrange a work environment and how to sit properly and align yourself correctly. (This

is my home workstation, btw -- my sumptuous TechRepublic cube is well appointed

with all the best posture-promoting accoutrements.) But here at home, my laptop

has been nudged to the brink of my desk by my creaky old Gateway, a cheap photo

printer, books, notebooks, dishes, a dog toy I had to confiscate (from the

cat). A good candidate for our messy workspace

photo gallery, as it happens.

This is how I've been operating for several years now, and I

think it's possibly starting to take its toll. So I decided to revisit Becky

Roberts' download "Eight

cost-free steps to improve workstation ergonomics,"

which talks about

simple changes she's made to help her users work more comfortably. And

then I

popped over to OSHA and discovered some great resources there, too.

Among other

things, I read about the hazards of poorly designed workstations. As I

suspected, I'm embracing every one of them, and I feel a little worse

for reading

about it because of course I have ALL the symptoms: numbness in the

hands; reduced grip strength; reduced range of motion in the shoulder,

neck, or back; dry, itchy, or

sore eyes; loss of color in affected regions; weakness (presumably they

mean physical

weakness; I guess I can't blame my character flaws on this chair.

hmmmm...).

Anyway, OSHA offers some useful info and a

couple of pretty slick checklists, which I'd recommend to anyone who's trying

to change their pretzel ways and head off the resulting debilitating effects.

The evaluation

checklist runs through items for identifying workstation problems; the purchasing

guide checklist offers criteria for selecting the healthiest components

(not just monitors and keyboards, but telephones, lighting, pointing devices,

and document holders).

About

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

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