Quiz: Is Your Work Station Ergonomic?

Working at a desk shouldn't be physically demanding. So why do so many office workers go home sore and exhausted? If your job is wearing you out, it's time to take a close look at your workspace. Your chair, desk, computer monitor, or something else could be working against you. With just a few adjustments, you can relieve your pain and increase your comfort. How much do you know about ergonomic -- or "body-friendly" -- work stations? Take this short quiz to find out.

1. Which of these is an important feature of an ergonomic chair?

a. A straight, rigid back rest

b. Fixed armrests

c. A five-leg base with casters (rollers)

d. All of the above

2. When working at your desk, your head and neck should be in line with your torso.

True

False

3. The top of your computer monitor should be slightly higher than eye level.

True

False

4. Where should your feet be when you're sitting at your desk?

a. Stretched out in front of you

b. Flat on the floor

c. Dangling above the floor

d. Any of the above

5. What's the ideal distance between your eyes and your monitor?

a. 20 inches

b. Two feet

c. 30 inches

d. It depends on your vision and the monitor

6. You should do stretching exercises only when you feel sore or stiff.

True

False

Answers

1. Which of these is an important feature of an ergonomic chair?

You answered: d. All of the above

A comfortable, chair that you can adjust can make a big difference. Instead of a straight, rigid backrest, your chair should have a slight curve to support your lower back. If your chair doesn't have the curve, you can support your back with a cushion or a rolled-up towel. If you wish to use armrests, they should be soft and adjustable. A five-leg base with casters keeps you stable but allows you to move without straining.

2. When working at your desk, your head and neck should be in line with your torso. True or false?

The correct answer is: True Your head, neck, and torso should always form a straight line. Keeping this rule in mind, you still have several options. You can sit upright with your torso and legs forming a right angle. Or you can lean back slightly, making a 105- to 120-degree angle. As another alternative, you can tilt your seat a little forward so your bottom is slightly higher than your knees and lean back so the angle between your torso and your legs is a bit higher than 90 degrees.

3. The top of your computer monitor should be slightly higher than eye level. True or false?

The correct answer is: False

The top of your monitor should be at or slightly below eye level. If your monitor is too high, you could strain your neck looking upward.

4. Where should your feet be when you're sitting at your desk?

The correct answer is: b. Flat on the floor

If your feet don't reach the floor, you should lower your chair or get a footrest.

5. What's the ideal distance between your eyes and your monitor?

The correct answer is: d. It depends on your vision and the monitor.

If you don't have to lean forward or backward to see your monitor clearly, it's at the right distance for you.

6. You should do stretching exercises only when you feel sore or stiff. True or false?

The correct answer is: False

Stretching regularly throughout the day will help you stop pain and stiffness before it starts: Just make sure you're warmed up beforehand. The National Institutes of Health provides a comprehensive list of office stretches at http://dohs.ors.od.nih.gov/exercises.htm

References

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Computer workstations: Chairs.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Computer workstations: Good working positions.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Computer workstations: Checklist

National Institutes of Health. Ergonomics. Musculoskeletal system exercises and stretches.

National Institutes of Health, Division of Occupational Health and Safety. Exercises and Stretches. http://dohs.ors.od.nih.gov/exercises.htm

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