You’d be hard pressed to find a job that doesn’t require you to spend time at a desk or computer. We often disregard the importance our work space’s set-up is to our overall health and in preventing sprains and strains.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the United States account for over 600,000 injuries and illnesses that are serious enough to result in days away from work. A poorly designed or poorly organized work space, whether stationary or mobile, can lead to traumatic or repetitive stress injuries, poor posture from chronic slouching, and even neuromuscular damage that may rear its head by way of tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation.

Setting Up Your Space

Your workspace should reflect and accommodate your individual needs. Here are some tips to set your workspace up for success:

  • Place the phone on the side of your non-dominant hand. This reduces the temptation to crick your neck to hold the phone against your shoulder.
  • If your space requires sharing of adjustable furniture, take the time to adjust your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor.
  • If your feet are dangling after having adjusted your chair, place a foot rest, like a small box, under your feet.
  • Place the keyboard directly in front of and close to you to prevent extended reaching.
  • If you wear bifocals, lower the computer monitor so you aren’t tilting your head to see through the bottom of your glasses. This will prevent neck, shoulder, and back discomfort.

Workstations on Wheels

  • Pay attention to how your monitor is adjusted in relation to your stature. Angle the screen so that it is perpendicular to your line of sight, if lighting permits.
  • The top of your monitor should be at or just below eye level. Keep your head, neck, torso, and legs in line and vertical.
  • Pushing is preferable to pulling for the prevention of injury. When pushing your workstation, be sure that handles are in the “power zone” between mid-thigh and mid-chest height to activate large muscle groups with the least amount of effort.

Murphy Neenan, RN, is a graduate student at the University of Vermont and a Doctor of Nursing Practice candidate following the Family Nurse Practitioner curriculum. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of New Hampshire, receiving a B.S. in Recreation Management and Policy: Program Administration. She is coming to nursing as a second career working as an RN at Central Vermont Medical Center; her previous professional experience being in the waterpark and recreation industries both domestically and internationally. She lives in Waitsfield with her partner Nate and is a dorm parent at Green Mountain Valley School.

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