By Linda Weitzel

I’m an ergonomist for Xerox. It’s a fancy word, but it means that I help people adjust their work habits and environment in order to avoid injuries and stress to their bodies. I get a lot of questions, but these three are the most common — and they’ll go a long way to help you and your employees avoid pain that results from repetitive stress injuries.

Linda Weitzel, senior ergonomist, Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability for Xerox.

Linda Weitzel, senior ergonomist, Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability for Xerox.

Q: ‘Neutral posture’ is supposed to be ideal. What is it?
A:
   Neutral posture is a body position (sitting or standing) where the major joints have the least amount of stress. When seated, a person’s feet should be flat on the floor (or a small footrest) with knees, hips and elbows all at about 90 degrees. Ensure your chair supports your back, relax your shoulders, keep your upper arms at your sides and forearms roughly parallel to the floor. For computer work, position the keyboard at about elbow height for your wrists to be flat. Keep your eyes level with the top of your monitor. Standing neutral is similar: your feet should be flat on the floor, but you may want a small footrest to change leg posture occasionally; your keyboard should be at about elbow height.

Q: How can I reduce the amount of mousing I have to do?
A:
  Use keyboard shortcuts, such as: control + X for cut, and control + V for paste. Find more at: Keyboard Shortcuts, Windows Keyboard Shortcuts and Computer Shortcut Keyboard Keys. Microsoft’s Windows 7, and above, have voice recognition software available to cut down on mouse clicks and keystrokes.( See Set Up Speech Recognition.)

Q: Are there risks associated with standing while working?
A:
  Yes. Like sitting, standing for long periods is a static posture ─ a form of forceful exertion ─ and can cause or contribute to discomfort. Alternating between standing and sitting, especially as you adjust to this new work posture, can minimize the risk. Wear supportive shoes ─ no high heels ─ to help reduce stress to the foot. And consider standing on an anti-fatigue mat. Cardiovascular issues, knee problems, leg pain, neuropathy in the feet and more can be exacerbated by long periods of standing. If you have these pre-existing conditions, please consult your medical professional before trying a standing workstation.