August 12, 2020

UW Health offers work from home safety recommendations

Madison, Wis. — As COVID-19 increases the number of individuals working from home and employing virtual work options, UW Health wants the community to know how to set up a safe and healthy office space at home.

Workplace ergonomics is defined as the science of designing a workspace to fit the needs of the individual worker in a way that enables productivity and reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis or back pain.

According to a recent survey, people now working from home due to COVID-19 often set up makeshift offices that can cause long term physical harm. For example, 75 percent of workers surveyed were using laptops as primary monitors, positioning the computer too far beneath eye level which can cause neck strain. More than one in five workers had poor lighting, which causes eye strain.

"It's important to create the healthiest work environment that we can to prevent injury," said Steve Hill, physical therapist and injury prevention coordinator at UW Health. "When a person has a workspace that is uncomfortable, it can make it very difficult to focus enough to have a good and productive day."

Steve offers these guidelines for arranging your home workspace:

  • The top of your computer monitor should be at eye level, about an arm's length away.

  • When sitting, your feet should be flat on the floor with knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

  • Your lower back should be supported, sitting up straight with your shoulders relaxed and arms supported by arm rests.

  • The forearms and hands should be parallel to the keyboard and mouse.

  • Take frequent breaks to get up once per hour for 1-3 minutes to move around and look away from screens.