Workstation Discomfort and Solutions

Excerpts from OSHA Ergonomic Report, SIC 48 - Communications

Station Worker

The employee sits at a work station and types. The work station appears to have a printer, a CPU, a monitor and a keyboard on it. The document holder is located to the right of the monitor at approximately a 15 degree angle from straight ahead. There is a wrist pad attached to the front portion of the keyboard. The wrist pad is of a blocky construction and still appears to have edges which are sharp enough to cause tendon construction. The employee's chair appears to be too high for the employees feet to touch the floor.

Discomfort:  It is recognized that keyboard work, while it entails a minimum of forceful exertion, can have an injurious effect on the finger control tendons and tendon sheaths because of the rapid, frequent and sustained activation of the tendons. Sustained periods of frequent finger activity even with low force can be consistent with the development of UECTDs such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and tenosynovitis.

Solution: Keyboard operators should have an aggregate rest period of at least 15 minutes every two hours. No finger manipulation should be performed during these periods and employees should be encouraged to get up and move around during these times to relieve static loading of muscles and reduce the chance of blood pooling.

Discomfort: Employee appears to not be able to position her feet on the floor. This creates a situation where the chair exerts pressure on the back of the legs which can reduce circulation and binds the tendons located behind the knees. The pressure created is consistent with the development of musculoskeletal problems such as pain and discomfort of the lower back, legs and feet.

Solution: Provide the employee with a fully adjustable foot support. The employee needs to be provided with the time and training to understand and perform the adjustment.

Discomfort: The keyboard is approximately 3 inches from the edge of the work station. When the keyboard is too close to the edge of the work station it creates fatigue in the arms of the operator as they are required to hold their arms in a static posture for long periods of time. There is also the tendency to rest the wrists on the edge of the table which can pinch and/or abrade the tendons. Muscle fatigue and tendon abuse is consistent with the development of UECTDs such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Solution: Give the employee more room to work. Rearrange the CPU of the computer or elongate the workstation table top to increase the work space depth the employee has between her body and the keyboard. Generally, the distance between the edge of the table and the keyboard should be 4 to 10 inches.

Solution: Provide supports for the employee's arms. These can be in the form of arm rests on chairs or other supports that will bolt onto the work surface.

Discomfort: The employee appears to rest her left wrist on the corner of the pad that is placed in front of the keyboard. This pressure on the tendons of the wrist which control the fingers and could cause pressure or abrasion the tendons which is consistent with the development of UECTDs such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Solution: Instruct the employee to move the pad over so the corner is not directly under the wrist area.

Discomfort: The video screen is tipped back at about a 20 degree angle from vertical. This angle can reflect the overhead lighting and create glare which is consistent with the development of eye strain and fatigue.

Solution: Raise the screen to an area that is closer to vertical with the line of sight of the operator. This will allow the operator to see clearly while keeping the screen in a vertical orientation which will reduce the glare.