Healthy workstations for your business

Humanscale is a global leader in ergonomic design and consulting services and is based out of New York City. Adam Labelle is an Associate Ergonomist with Humanscale and is based in Toronto, ON and runs Humanscale Consulting in Canada. He can be reached at

But my Mother always told me “good posture” required sitting up straight – as in 90 degree angle straight! Believe me, that is not comfortable!

Rodney: While I never like to correct the Moms out there, sitting up straight is actually bad for your back. A reclined position and regular postural shifts are far more beneficial, and infinitely more comfortable. Sitting at a 90 degree angle can actual aggravate muscle strain and enhance muscle fatigue. Sorry Mom!

Good to know! So if I just adjust my chair so it has a slight recline, my workstation will be ergonomic?

Rodney: Not quite. Although adjustability is important, products should only be adjusted within a safe range. “Adjustable” doesn’t mean “ergonomic.” Adjustments must be usable and easily understood in order to be of any real ergonomic value.

Ok, so I should look for “ergonomic” furniture, rather than “adjustable” items?

Rodney: Well, not necessarily. The term “ergonomic” isn’t regulated, it’s used to describe everything from toasters to baby backpacks! If you’re shopping for ergonomic office furniture, make sure you do your research first. Check to see if your ergo products are backed up by serious testing. You may also wish to have an ergonomic assessment on your space by a qualified Ergonimist. An assessment will provide you with tons of great tips and tricks to improve the comfort and productivity of your office.

Ergonomic baby backpacks – who’d a thunk it? What sort of things would an ergonomic assessment find?

Rodney: Well, ergonomic assessments focus on all of the major aspects of your office – from your desk to your chair, even your monitor and mouse. The following are some common recommendations that will help you design a healthy workspace and improve the ergonomics of your space.

Your Ergonomic Office Chair

Your thighs should be parallel to the floor and your feet should be able to rest flat on the floor (you made need a footrest to accomplish this). Raise or lower your seat until you can achieve this position.
The backrest of your chair should be raised so that it fits in the small of your back.
Try to avoid the use of recline locks on your chair. You may wish to adjust your recline tension to support varying degrees of recline throughout the day.

Your Ergonomic Keyboard

Use an articulating keyboard support. Position it between one and one and a half inches above your thighs. Angle your keyboard away from your body to keep your wrists straight while typing.

Your Ergonomic Mouse

Try and position your mouse close to the keyboard to avoid reaching. Instead of using your wrist to navigate your mouse, glide the heel of your palm over the mousing surface and use your entire arm.

Your Ergonomic Monitor

Position your monitor at least an arm’s length away with the top line of text at or slightly below eye level. Your line of sight should be perpendicular to the monitor – this may mean that you’ll need to tilt the monitor away from your sight line.

Healthy workstations make for healthy workers. For more information on ergonomic office furniture, please contact an office design specialist atWork Office Furniture today!

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