Learn how to be an ergonomics hero at home

Emory Report | Oct. 26, 2020

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Working from home doesn’t have to be synonymous with working in discomfort. Healthy Emory offers programs to teach employees how to make simple changes to improve posture and reduce aches and pains.

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The COVID-19 pandemic was an unexpected change that brought ergonomics and proper body positioning to the forefront of many people’s minds, especially for those currently working in a remote environment. Many people may not have spent much time focusing on how their home workstation is set up, so working remotely can pose an injury prevention challenge for those not used to that environment.

Whether employees work in an Emory location or at home, proper ergonomics (the study of people in their working environment) is important. The goal of correct ergonomic positioning is to eliminate discomfort and risk of injury given that awkward posture, repetitious movement or static body positioning can affect the musculoskeletal system. After a full day’s work at the computer, employees may feel neck and shoulder pain, lower back discomfort or general stiffness. Poor ergonomics and discomfort can affect productivity and absenteeism while increasing employee risk for musculoskeletal strains and injuries. Carpal tunnel, anyone?

As a way to educate employees on proper ergonomic positioning while working remotely, Healthy Emory’s ergonomist, Dawn McMillian, prepared a recorded webinar called “Ergonomics @ Home.” This brief program shares practical information for employees who are trying to improve their remote workspace setup, including how to work remotely in a comfortable and productive manner.

McMillian can also Zoom into department meetings and provide a live ergonomic presentation to teams. These sessions cover common ergonomic problems, suggested body mechanic modifications and practical strategies for improving workstations.

Dona Yarbrough, assistant vice president of Campus Life, requested one of these workshops for her staff. “Dawn is an excellent presenter who was able to answer specific questions from employees about their particular challenges in working at home,” she said. “Some employees have a home office, while others are working from their beds. Dawn was able to describe ways to improve home workstations, regardless of the circumstances.” 

Complete this form to request a workshop

McMillian also shares these simple ergonomic tips that anyone can try:

  • When using a laptop, attach a separate keyboard and mouse. This will allow an individual to use their keys and mouse with their upper body in a more neutral position.
  • Use a chair with arm support, which takes some of the strain off the shoulder muscles.
  • Sit all the way back in a chair that provides firm back support. Perching toward the front edge puts more strain on the lower back.

Making some simple changes in a home workstation setup can make many aches and pains disappear. Focus on personal health and well-being and be an Ergo Hero today.