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Walking            Stretching        Half Sit-Ups

Computer ergonomics: , it's time to stop eating lunch at our desks and get moving so we can help our bodies handle the work day.  I recommend that computer users break up their work day to avoid sitting for 8 + hours each day. A simple program of walking  30 minutes a day will help strengthen muscles and prevent weight gain. These can help prevent lower back difficulties associated with computer users

A daily program of stretching exercises will improve your musculoskeletal flexibility. Stretching exercises such as gently bending backwards or sideways, slowly rotating the hips, or twisting gently from side to side. Personally I start each day with a number of stretching exercises including half sit-ups to strengthen stomach muscles to help support my back.

 Half sit-up

·         Lie flat on your back with knees bent.

·         Reach palms toward knees until shoulders lift from floor.

·         Hold for 5 seconds.

·         Roll back to floor.

·         Repeat


The original purpose of ergonomics was to enhance both the efficiency and well-being of the workforce. Who can forget the infamous Hawthorne study. Today as an ergonomist my role is to keep an employee safe from suffering a musculoskeletal injury while performing their responsibilities at the highest level of proficiency. But each new study I read in my journals is stating the same fact:

...... adults who sit for 11 or more hours a day had a 40 percent higher chance of dying prematurely over the next 3 years compared with those who sat for fewer than 4 hours a day. Study conducted at the University of Sydney, and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine

Too much sitting also appears to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Dr. James A. Levine of the Mayo Clinic cites research linking sitting for long periods with obesity and metabolic syndrome (increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, elevated cholesterol, and excess mid-body fat).

 Professor Steven Blair of the University of South Carolina found that men who spend too much time sitting, even those who exercise regularly, are at higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Solutions: I recommend that the employees' work day be structured so they are not sitting all day. Organize the day as I feature in my Wellness program  to incorporate what I refer to as mini breaks such as take your phone calls standing, have walking meetings, and definitely do not eat your lunch at your desk. The highest demand computer work should be done in the morning when the body hopefully is in a stronger, rested state. Remember during prolonged sitting your body basically becomes stagnant. The body doesn't get a chance to reset the metabolism by moving around, so it remains at a baseline level. And although the number of calories burned while standing up is not huge, the benefits add up over time. And if you add the standing time in just one day you can burn an extra 150  calories per day (Losing 1 pound requires burning about 3,500 calories). That adds up to 35,000 calories per year

10 Common Computer Ergonomic mistakes

When you use a computer; you are interacting on 3 levels; visually, intellectually, and physically. The following ergonomic mistakes lead to physical discomfort and then pain. The 10 most common mistakes I observe:

Improper use of seating

            Instead of sitting with your shoulder blades firmly against the seat back; you are sitting on the front edge of the chair. The ergonomic seating is designed to maintain the human body in a neutral position. No excessive force is then placed upon the neck, shoulders, or back. When you sit on the front edge of the chair; your body has no support from the chair. Approximately 80% (according to NIOSH) of computer users report discomfort in the neck, shoulders and back

Document holder

            The human head weighs approximately 10 pounds. When you use a document holder (placed next to the monitor) and sitting properly in your chair; this is the ideal arrangement. But if you instead are leaning over a document lying flat on the work surface you are asking your neck and shoulders to support hundreds of pounds of force all day; everyday. For with each inch you lean forward the weight of your head doubles.

Phone cradle

            The human body is a complex machine with many sophisticated systems such as nerves and blood vessels. When you cradle a phone between your head and shoulder top you are compromising both the nerve and blood flows. Just like the kink in a water hose; the flow is reduced. Phone cradling can permanently interfere with the necks vital systems of nerves and blood vessels

Ninety degrees

            The neutral body position for computer users means maintaining the elbows and knees at 90 degrees. By keeping your feet flat on the floor (knees at 90 degrees) you avoid unnecessary force or pressure on your back. Elbows at 90 degrees translates into less chance of physical discomfort with your wrists, arms, and shoulders.

Straight ahead

            Viewing the monitor in a straight ahead manner reduces the unnecessary force on the neck and shoulders. Viewing a monitor with your head twisted to one side is not recommended.

Same plane

            The human arm weighs approximately 8 pounds. When your computer keyboard and mouse are on the same plane this is the best position for you. If one is placed on a  higher level, such as one on the desk top the other on a keyboard tray;  you’re asking your neck and shoulders to hold up hundreds of pounds of force throughout the day; everyday

Wrist rests

            Wrist rests are just that. A place to rest when not operating the keyboard or mouse. Too often I observe computer users pressing downward upon the wrist rests while keying or clicking. This constant downward pressure will ultimately lead to difficulties with the wrist. Keep your wrists above the rest while keying or clicking and use the wrist rest when you stop.

Can you see me

            When you have difficulty viewing what is on the monitor you will adjust your body position in order to see. I observe computer users leaning to get closer to the monitor or if they wear bifocals they are tipping their heads upwards. Remember you are viewing a pixel, a projection, and the words are not as sharp when compared to a printed page. When you use a computer have your eyes examined annually and bring your responses to our vision discovery instrument. Be sure to follow our guidelines for the best colors . Without the correct prescription you will reduce your accuracy by as much as 9% and your productivity by 38%.

Dancing feet

            There is no reason you can’t stretch your legs, cross legs, or adjust your feet’s position. But maintaining your feet flat (knees at 90 degrees) reduces the likelihood of unnecessary forces on your back. Stretching is okay. Sitting on top your leg or feet on top of the chair pedestal; bad.

Empty chair

            When you sit for longs periods of time you place stress on your spine, blood can pool in your legs, and your body needs occasional breaks. So organize your day so you can create rest breaks for your body. Make phone calls, attend meetings, walk over to discuss points with a coworker. Remember to get out of the chair throughout the work day.


When I am called to help an employee who’s experiencing physical difficulties repeatedly I will observe the same ergonomic missteps. Overworking the human body by avoiding good computer ergonomics ultimately leads to the day when discomfort becomes pain. Follow the guidelines we recommend to avoid the physical discomforts associated with computer use.  Remember repetitive stress injuries are cumulative.



Ergonomics working at home: you would expect if an employee works from their home their health and safety is not your concern. But OSHA thinks very differently for they categorize home offices of employees who are required to work at home as  "home-based worksites."

Should you be  inspecting workers' home offices for safety hazards? Employees concerned that their home offices are unsafe can make specific complaints to OSHA, which will then contact the employer about the problem. I\

f OSHA determines a real hazard, it has the authority to prohibit the employer from having employees work at home and/or it can fine the employer.

Employers should inquire of all work-at-home employees, no matter the amount of time this is done, to specifically detail their workspaces and whether they have any concerns or special requests. OSHA requires employees to disclose potential hazards in their home offices

Applying ergonomics in your home work space is the difference between working healthy, productively, or suffering a repetitive stress injury. For the home environment I wish to focus on five elements: seating, lighting, work surface, document holder, breaks.

Seating: most ergonomic seating will satisfy the needs of what is called the 95th percentile: men, women, children in a range of average heights and weights. If your company ergonomic/safety  program does not provide ergonomic seating for the work at home employee; be sure they have seating which fits them, is adjustable, and allows for a neutral position. If the employee purchases their own seating it probably will not have all the bells and whistles of your office seating.

Document holder: USE IT!

Lighting: Is a decorative table lamp your main source of computer workplace lighting? Consider a floor lamp bouncing off a white ceiling and supplemental task lighting. Proper illumination of your documents and work area increases your visual comfort. Not to mention you work more productively. P.S. watch for glare from open windows and overhead ceiling lights.

Work Surface: are you working on a TV tray, or on a chair with your feet propped up, or maybe lying on the bed? Don't laugh but I have encountered all of these scenarios by employees who work at home. Maintaining the 90 degrees or neutral position is just as important for working at home as in the office.

Breaks: One ergonomic factor I am concerned with is the time of day. Many employees who've I have been asked to consult work a "normal" eight hour day and then work from home. After the human body is been awake for 12 - 14 hours; the ergonomic forces can be multiplied on a person who is fatigued. So I would advise against " crunching" to get the work done. Try to take micro breaks if working into the evening and nighttime hours. And when your day reaches the eighteen hour level; tomorrow is another day.

Because workers' compensation laws are state specific, there are no absolutely clear answers that apply across the board. The importance of creating a written policy for work-at-home situations cannot be stressed enough

Not only should your policy restrict responsibility to injuries that happen in the home office, it should also clearly state that it is restricted to times when the employee is performing authorized work.


Sitting all day is a risk to your health. It's not me as an computer ergonomic expert saying this to scare you but mounting evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, research in Europe and Australia. Even the Wall Street Journal on July 10th ran an article "Sitting for More Than Three Hours a Day Cuts Life Expectancy. In my wellness program 10 Most Common Ergonomic Mistakes I point out the importance of organizing your computer work day. The most demanding computer activity should be accomplished in the morning when your body is at its strongest level and the most rested from at least six hours of sleep. The remainder of your work day should be organized so that you accomplish your job responsibilities but are getting out of the chair. You can take micro breaks with ergonomic exercises. And you can start to reduce your sitting time by not eating your lunch at your desk

Essilor Computer lens and the Anti-fatigue single vision lens

As you can see the numbers below represent the number of workers using computers while on the job. With almost 43.3 percent of workers over age 44 developing presbyopia; two new ophthalmic lenses are available to address the unique visual demands for computer usage. the Essilor Computer lens and the Anti-fatigue single vision lens can greatly improve a workers visual performance and productivity. Not to mention reduce the visual stress and discomfort associated with computer use.

Age group        percentage using at computer at work

18-24                38.5

25 - 29              56.9

30- 39               59

40- 49              60.8

50-59               60.1

60 older           48.5 *

Hand Held ergonomics: from tablets to GPS units and smart phones these devices are quickly the go to first technology used by people of all ages. I have observed more and more younger individuals including teenagers complaining of physical difficulties you would normally associated with computer usage. Please consider these recommendations:

    ** when entering information avoid "banging"  ** increase font size  ** instead of hanging your head over the tablet: prop up the tablet  ** maintain your arms at a 90 degree angle


Which Font is best for viewing on the computer?

Do you desire to more easily comprehend the letter characters on your computer monitor? No, you don't have to run out to your local computer store and purchase the latest monitor version. There is no "miracle" monitor accessory to transform how you see the characters on a monitor. The solution is very simple and inexpensive: modify your font.

In past articles I have addressed both the font color and size to improve your visual performance and accuracy. But over the summer I have been examining the actual font's role in visual functioning and precision. I think we forget the characters on the computer monitor are a projection. Characters displayed on a computer monitor are dark in the center but fuzzy along the character’s outer edge. That’s why pixel concentration is so important as it affects image quality. Most computer's word processing software contains over 160 different fonts. Usually most software has a default font and size. And I have observed many computer users; just like how they employ their computer seating; sit down and begin working with a particular software and the "preloaded" font. They never consider how to best use the technology and tools available to them. They just use it.

Of the 160+ word processing software fonts; in my research I have identified 12 different fonts which I can recommend. As most of us use a variety of technology: computers, wireless phones, IPODS, and GPS units; I have learned that each technology has its own unique visual demand. Each technology can be modified (depending on brand and service provider) to make it easier to comprehend the screen characters. For example; did you know that you can go into your cellular phone's settings and change the font?

I know that without the correct spectacle prescription your visual accuracy can be affected by as much as 38%. I know that when we are using different types of technology we are alternating our view almost every 7 minutes. I strongly recommend that your employees use my vision identification tool WIDE (which stands for what I do with my eyes) to bring to their eye doctor at the time of their eye examination. Then the doctor and employee can discuss the various visual demands and the appropriate prescription(s) to satisfy the vision correction. For example; of the over 300+ progressive bifocals in production today I have learned that about a dozen available in safety lenses are the most affective. Especially the new Varilux Comfort which I discuss in this month’s product review.

I invite you to try out the different fonts to learn which is the easiest for you to see. Take a moment and explore the options available to you on the different technological devices you work with. If you have any questions; please contact me directly at 708-686-5266

Test            times roman    123

Test      futura bk    123

Test           arial                123

Test        century         123

Test        Tahoma         123

Test   courier   123

Test      verdana      123

Test           eurostile           123

Test          georgia             123

Test           perpetua              123

Test           tunga               123

Test      arial black    123


Computer ergonomics: The science of computer vision

When you read just one word, your left and right eye teamed together point to the first letter of the word, identifying each of the letters as the eyes move from left to right across the word; transmitting that information back to the brain as it comprehends the word. And all of this takes place in about a tenth of a second. It's easy for your eyes to read with your glasses text which has clearly defined characters such as on a printed page. But when you read a word on a computer monitor you're actually viewing a projection of a letter made up of round dots called pixels. That's why pixel concentration, font type& size, text colors, and flicker rates are critical computer vision issues.

The human eye as it ages into the thirties and forties loses the ability to effectively accommodate as eye teaming begins a downward trend. While viewing the image on a computer monitor the normal blink rate of 20 times per minute is reduced to levels as low as 4 blinks. Dryness of the eye continues to increase as we all get even older. In other words you're having a difficult time keeping your eyes focused and your vision clear and sharp.

 As we age the lens inside your eye becomes less clear. The muscles inside your eye which flex the lens become less capable to control the lens focusing; i.e. your arms don't seem long enough. Progressive bifocals which have been prescribed to address visual issues for the computer user reach a level where even this lens cannot provide clear sharp vision for distance, reading, and the computer. This usually happens as the reading power of the progressive bifocal increases over +2.00. The physics of the progressive in higher reading powers causes the mid range and near portions to "shrink". Thus these smaller zones force the progressive bifocal wearer to tip their head upward placing stress on the neck, shoulders, and back. If you have trouble seeing the screen you'll adjust your head and body so you can which then adversely affects your proper ergonomic positioning. I cannot stress the importance your eye doctor understand fully your visual demands at home and at work. A prescription for just the computer is the alternative over trying to make one pair of lenses work at three different distances. I discuss these issues and solutions in my programs Combating Visual Fatigue and Avoiding Computer Vision Syndrome.

Do I sit or do I stand.... Recently I have observed reports in the newspaper and on television that highlighted the benefits of standing, versus sitting, while using a computer. Scientific evidence has proven that prolonged sitting has numerous adverse affects on the human body. Compression of the lower musculoskeletal system, blood pooling, and increased resting blood pressure levels are very common amongst individuals with prolonged sitting times. So what’s a safety manager to do?

There are a few isolated instances when a standing work station could be beneficial but should be decided on a case by case situation. Ideally you would also equip this employee with wireless keyboard and input devices. An anti fatigue floor mat should also be incorporated. The ergonomic seating should also be one that can be used when sitting or standing

Personally I don’t envision corporate America refitting the computer workplace with workstations that raise up at an approximate cost of $800 per person. But as I point out in my ergonomic wellness program; it is important to get out of the chair. I recommend that employees examine their work day and incorporate periods that have them moving. For example don’t eat your lunch in front of the computer, stand when making phone calls, and consult with a coworker face to face versus sending them an email. These micro breaks all help reduce the stress on the musculoskeletal system and heart. I recommend you review with your employees the proper way to use their ergonomic seating. I cannot tell you how many times when I am called to conduct an ergonomic assessment that the primary difficulty is improper use of the chair. The ergonomic seating will support you when:

* You sit with your back firmly against the chair back rest and lumbar support

* Your feet must rest flat on the floor

* Elbows and knees should both be at an approximately 90 degrees

If you have a specific ergonomic questions; please contact me directly at 708-686-5266 so we can discuss your situation.

A recent telephone survey of 1,020 adults conducted by Opinion Research Corporation in partnership with the American Optometric Association has found that a majority (61%) of Americans are concerned about vision problems caused by prolonged computer use. According to the survey; people feel that CVS is a major vision problem and 64% believe that it will worsen in the future.

Computer Vision Disorder

Is a computer one of the tools necessary for your job? Do you use a computer at home? The answer to both of these questions is probably: YES. Then ask your self; “how often do I encounter any of these symptoms?"

                Dry eyes?

                Focusing difficulty?

                Blurred vision?


                Sore shoulders?

                Pain in my neck or back?

The Vision Council of America indicates sixty million people suffer from eye problems associated with a computer use. Every year that number rises by an additional million people. These 6 symptoms are estimated to cost American companies and employees 2 billion dollars to diagnose and treat.

If a person is having a visual difficulty associated with computer use; more than likely they will also have some level & form of physical trouble also. The right prescription lenses and appropriate frames will aid the computer user in avoiding computer related difficulties. So it is critical for your prescription lenses to inform your eye doctor how far away from your eyes your monitor is positioned. If you use a bifocal lens be sure to select a frame which has a minimum of 35 millimeters in vertical height (referred to as the B measurement).

Computer use is the most visually intensive and demanding work. People who have visually difficulty seeing the computer will automatically adjust their bodies to focus on the monitor screen. The result of these changes in good posture to see the screen are musculoskeletal problems in the neck, back, shoulders, arms, and hands.

You can reduce the likelihood of visual and physical difficulties by incorporating the following preventive measures:

· Always work with a computer monitor by facing it with your head straight

· A monitor should be approximately 24 – 28 inches away from your eyes

· The top of the monitor should be at approximately eye brow height (for progressive bifocal users; lower the top of monitor to nose level)

· Be sure to sit with your back firmly against the chair back

· Your feet should be flat on the floor

· Paper documents should be on document holder – Not lying flat on the desk

· Position document holder on your visually dominant side

* Keyboard tray and mouse should be on the same plane.

* Upper arms and elbows to be close to body (not extended outward)

* Forearms, wrists, and  hands to be straight and parallel to floor

* Avoid cradling phone between head and neck

* Head and neck to be upright (not bent forward over the work surface)

· Reduce glare

· Use black letters on a light background such as white

· Recommended progressive lenses are Varilux Computer Fatigue lenses, Adapter, Solamax, Access, Shamir and Readable

· Prescription lens material for optimum performance is polycarbonate with anti-reflective coating

To address any specific questions you may have; please contact our office directly at 708-686-5266