What is an Ergonomic Computer Workstation?

G. Wiesen

An ergonomic computer workstation is an area or piece of furniture designed to allow a person to use a computer in a way that is easy and will cause minimal strain on his or her body. This type of area can include standard types of furniture, such as a desk and chair, which are chosen or arranged in a way that is beneficial for a specific person to use for great lengths of time. An ergonomic computer workstation can also be a particular piece of furniture designed to reduce stress or strain on a person’s body while he or she is using a computer.

An ergonomic computer workstation will often include a chair that provides good lumbar support for the user.
An ergonomic computer workstation will often include a chair that provides good lumbar support for the user.

Although not strictly mandatory for extended use of a computer, an ergonomic computer workstation can better ensure a computer user avoids a wide array of possible health problems that can arise from extended computer use. Sitting at a computer for extended periods of time may not be physically taxing in the same way that hours of physical labor is, but there are some health issues presented by extended computer use. This can include an increased risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis as well as back and neck pain.

Extended computer use puts someone at a higher risk for developing carpal tunnel.
Extended computer use puts someone at a higher risk for developing carpal tunnel.

An ergonomic computer workstation is designed to help alleviate discomfort due to lengthy computer use and avoid health complications as much as possible. The simplest type of ergonomic computer workstation is a work space designed to allow a person to remain as comfortable as possible. A desk and chair are standard types of furniture found in most offices and home computer rooms, but the improper furniture can make computer use quite unpleasant.

Ergonomic computer workstations are set up to help workers avoid discomfort or injury.
Ergonomic computer workstations are set up to help workers avoid discomfort or injury.

When sitting at a computer, the computer user should be able to sit upright in a way that is comfortable, to look at a downward angle at his or her monitor, and to keep his or her arms bent slightly downward. An ergonomic computer workstation can include a chair that allows the computer user to sit comfortably with his or her back in an upright, but not rigid, position. The desk used for this type of workstation should also have a keyboard tray, ensuring the proper angle for a user’s elbows and allowing his or her wrist to remain straight and comfortable.

An ergonomic computer workstation can also be a fairly complicated piece of furniture specifically designed for extensive computer use. These types of workstations are often designed as a single unit that is curved and shaped like a “C.” The computer user sits in the inside of the bottom of the shape, with the monitor and keyboard slightly above him or her, near the top of the shape. He or she is almost lying down during use, and the entire setup allows him or her to work in much the same way as at a desk, but with everything shifted counterclockwise to allow effective use from a more comfortable position.

An ergonomic workstation can help employees avoid work-related back and neck pain.
An ergonomic workstation can help employees avoid work-related back and neck pain.

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