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What is an Ergonomic Table?

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  • Written By: Terrie Brockmann
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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With businesses' increased concern over employee well-being, many businesses equip their workstations with ergonomic tables. An ergonomic table is one that adjusts to be more ergonomically correct for the user. There are many factors in the design of industrial or residential ergonomic tables. The adjustment may be the table's height or tabletop's tilt, and some tables are a combination of modular pieces, such as a platform for a monitor, a tabletop for paperwork, and a pullout shelf for a keyboard.

The basic ergonomic table consists of a tabletop that is adjustable in height. Tabletops vary depending on the needs of the worker. A recessed tabletop has a cutout where the worker sits. Others have a tilting middle section. Sometimes manufacturers offer add-on accessories, such as a padded forearm or wrist support where a person can rest her hands or arms between typing sessions.

Typically, a worker may adjust an ergonomic table to different heights. One of the least expensive options to adjust the height is to use pins and pre-set holes. This is the most inconvenient and often is difficult for one person to do alone. Another drawback is that normally a person cannot raise the tabletop with items sitting on it. Some tabletops use a pin and spring system.

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An alternative to the pin system is the hand crank system. Sometimes manufacturers refer to it as a manual system. The tabletop raises and lowers as the user cranks a handle. An upgraded variation of the crank system is the electrical controlled system. This is the easiest system to use, but usually one of the most expensive.

An ergonomic table may have one leg, which is called a pedestal style; two legs; or four legs. A buyer may choose a stationary style or rolling style. A user should analyze several factors, such as the tasks of the user and the work environment. In industrial situations, frequently engineers study the worker and the job before designing a table that will increase the worker's productivity, reduce the risk of injury, and maximize the environment's efficiency. In some work environments, four legs create a trip hazard or interfere with chair legs or the worker's legs.

Many times workers sustain injuries by overreaching for items, stooping over their work, or from sitting or standing too long. A properly designed table may decrease the risk of these types of injuries and increase efficiency. Experts suggest measuring the distance from the worker's elbow to the floor and choosing a table height that is closest to that number. Another method of selecting the correct table height is to adjust the height so the worker's wrists are straight or parallel to the floor while typing. A worker's shoulders should be relaxed.

Switching between standing and sitting helps the body resist fatigue and may reduce some muscle strain. Not all tables have the range of movement to perform this adjustment; therefore, a buyer needs to research the limitations of the ergonomic table before purchasing it. Other limitations include weight restrictions. Some adjustable tables allow up to 300 pounds (136 kg) to remain on the tabletop during adjustment, but others limit the weight to about 50 pounds (23 kg).

A custom-made ergonomic table may have a specific size, height range, and worktop shape specification. Some manufacturers offer worktops that have a negative tilt. Some experts suggest slightly lowering the back edge, giving the table a slight reverse tilt. Experts also advise that ergonomically correct settings for one person's body type or work style may not be correct for other workers.

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