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WHY ERGONOMIC ACCESSORIES?
Most ergonomists agree upon two fundamental principles for decreasing the incidence of repetitive strain injuries:
A "neutral posture" should be maintained while working at a computer. Frequent changes in position should be made during extended computer use.
"Neutral posture" implies that the working position of the body puts no sustained strain on any body part. Shoulders should be relaxed. Hands and wrists should be aligned, with fingers falling naturally downward. To maintain a neutral posture while typing on a keyboard, the input device must be positioned at the correct height and angle for the specific user and his or her posture. Just as size and body proportions vary between people, the configuration of the workstation must vary to suit the needs of the specific user. Consideration should be given to the elevation and inclination of input devices.
When typing, a user's forearms should be horizontal and at the elbow's rest height. The input device (keyboard or mouse) should be located in the space between the top of the thigh and the underside of the forearm. The angle of the input device should allow hands to be aligned with wrists. In general, if a user were sitting in an upright posture, the keyboard and mouse would be horizontal. If a user is inclined forward when typing, the keyboard and mouse must be tilted downward (negative tilt) to maintain a neutral posture. If a user works in a reclined posture, the keyboard and mouse must be tilted upward (positive tilt) to maintain a neutral posture.
BIFMA has released a draft of an "Ergonomics Guideline for VDT (Visual Display Terminal) Furniture Used in Office Work Spaces" (BIFMA G1-2001). Within this document, it is recommended that office workers change their postures throughout the day. Upright, forward tilt, rearward tilt, and standing postures are specifically mentioned. A change in body position requires that the height and/or angle of the input device also be altered to maintain a neutral posture. It may then be necessary to reorient the monitor as well.
Workstation adjustability must be provided in order to allow proper working postures for a wide range of user sizes and proportions. Ideally, this adjustment should be quick and easy so that it is simple for an office worker to change postures throughout the day. Workplace tools such as keyboard mechanisms, monitor supports, and organizational accessories provide the most cost effective means of accomplishing this goal.