Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ergonomic Checklist

Our school computer labs are generally pretty good instructional spaces. However there are some areas that could use imporovement:
None of our school computer labs provide adjustable chairs.  All the chairs are standard student desk chairs.  The computer desks are custom built and are at a slightly lower than standard desk height so the keyboard is in approximately the right spot.  Lighting and ventilation is good in all of them.  In the labs that have windows, blinds control the direct light but it would be great to have dimmers on some of the switches or multiple switches so that viewing the large teaching screen was easier. We have packed too many computers into too small a space to allow for papers or books to be placed within easy viewing distance.  There isn't room for a writing surface either.

If I could design a lab it would not have computers in rows facing forward.  Computers would be in arcs of 3 or 4 computers that would allow viewing the teacher monitor but also accommodate group learning.

We need to do everything we can to keep our students healthy which includes caring for their physical well being while using computers.  There are three areas of concern that can be addressed ergonomically.  This is a checklist of what we can do to reduce injury, strain and fatigue:

Reduce eye strain:
1.     Position the monitor between 20 and 28 from eyes.
2.     Provide indirect and diffused lighting to reduce glare. Use a screen filter if there is no way to control the glare through positioning or light control.
3.     Position monitor so that the eyes are about level with the top on the monitor.

Reduce the risk of repetitive motion injuries to the hands and wrists:
1.     Proper desk height. The keyboard is positioned at or slightly below elbow level so that the elbows can be comfortably flexed.
2.     The keyboard position allows room for the wrist to be supported.
3.     There is room for a mouse close to the keyboard and at the same level.
4.     There are no hard or sharp edges underneath the wrists or arms.  Provide cushioning if necessary.

Reduce risk of back and shoulder strain encourage proper body position:
1.     Adjustable height chair
2.     Feet flat on floor or on a foot rest if chair needs to higher to accommodate desk height.
3.     Back straight and erect.
4.     Chair supports lower back.

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