Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just Stand - Tools for Planning Your Workspace

In a recent post I talked about the health benefits of the stand-up desk.  This info graph from really puts sitting in perspective.

Sitting Disease by the Numbers
Click on the image to enlarge.

Here is a simple online calculator to help you set-up your work space properly.

There are also a number of ergonomic tips you can consider when optimizing your workspace:

• Rest your hands frequently, especially when any tingling, numbness, pain, cramping, etc. occurs.
• Try and control your mouse with the lightest possible grip.
• Rest your palms, not your wrist, on a wrist-rest or the desktop.
• When using a keyboard/mouse, your hands should be even or slightly lower than your elbows. An adjustable keyboard tray mounted under the desktop may be necessary.
• Keep your hands in-line with your forearms as much as possible, not bent in/out or up/down at the wrist.
• Rest your elbows on your chair's armrests and adjust them so the weight of your arms is supported by the armrests, not supported by your shoulders.
• Use a foot rest if your feet aren't flat on the floor.
• The top of your monitor should be about eye level so you aren't bending your neck up or too far down.
• Sit upright so your head is above your shoulders. Don't slouch forward.
• Take frequent breaks and do stretching exercises to replenish blood flow which is restricted by continuous muscle use, especially involving your hands.
• Alter your posture from time to time but keep within the guidelines of correct sitting most of the time.
• Sit so the natural hollow stays in your lower back. A good adjustable chair should allow this.
• Position your monitor and keyboard in front of you, not to the side.
• Use larger barreled pens (1/2"+ diameter) to make them easier to grasp.
• Rest your hands frequently, especially when any tingling, numbness, pain, etc. occurs.
• If a repetitive job is awkward, try to find a better way to accomplish it.
• Alternate easy and hard tasks that use your hands.
• Keep your wrist in a neutral position as much as possible, not bent or twisted.
• Use your whole hand to grasp objects, not just your thumb and index finger.
• Give your hand and wrist time to recover after forceful movements.
• Don't carry heavy objects for long periods. Use jacks, carts, dollies, etc. whenever possible.
• Increase the diameter of the handles of tools and equipment with tape, foam or other materials to help reduce the force of your grip and to spread the pressure more evenly over the hand.
• Keep your hands warm to promote circulation.

It is management's responsibility to establish and promote a safe working environment. It's your job to hold them accountable. The next time you go to the Gemba consider the Muda, Muri, and Mura of the people and their workspace. These tools should provide you with a new eye for improvement.

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