The Importance of Being Ergo

Melissa and Kristen

If you’re like us, work can have you hunched over your computer for hours on end, and monthly massages are just the cost of doing business. But do they have to be?

We were visited today by our good friend and workplace safety guru, Kristen Heitman. As a Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist, Kristen had some tips and tricks to help make work less of a pain in the neck.

OSHA estimates that $1 of every $3 spent on worker’s compensation stems from insufficient ergonomic protection. Awareness and simple adjustments can improve an employee’s health and performance as well as an employer’s work comp loss ratio.

Here’s a taste of what we learned:

  • While L-shaped desks are ubiquitous in office settings, they can be problematic for mixed computer and writing tasks. People often place their computer in the corner, but unless you can outfit your space with a keyboard tray, this position causes too much twisting and craning. Consider placing your computer on one side of the desk and your paperwork on the other.
  • Resting your elbows and forearms on your armrests or desk for long periods of time can cause elbow and shoulder strain as well as pinched nerves. Your arms should be positioned naturally at your sides.  When your elbows are bent at 90 degrees, your fingertips should naturally reach the keyboard and mouse. A shorter keyboard and wireless mouse are beneficial tools.
  • Your primary screen should be centered at eye level and positioned arm distance away from your body to limit excessive head rotation and eye strain. Most monitors are too short; consider purchasing a monitor riser to achieve a comfortable viewing height.
  • The age of mobile devices spawned what some doctors call “text neck”, or headaches and tight shoulders from constantly slumping over screens. The kid in Jerry McGuire taught us that the average human head weighs 8 pounds. But for every inch your neck tilts forward, the pressure doubles on your spine. So sending your mom a quick text adds 20 or 30 pounds to your head and over time can flatten the natural curve of your neck. Remember to sit up straight and take a break from your iPad.

And finally, it doesn’t always matter how much money you throw down on fancy ergo hardware. If your desk attitude looks more “cruising down the street in my 64” than “I’m filing a Request For Proposal”, you’re probably a lost cause. Mindfulness and good posture are key to productivity and preventing injury.

If you want more information or if you’d like to talk to Kristen about your own ergonomics dilemma, you can reach her at

Picture of Melissa’s side desk set up after ergo assessment

Picture of Melissa’s desk set up before ergo assessment

Picture of Melissa’s corner desk set up before ergo assessment.

Picture of Melissa’s desk set up after ergo assessment.