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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Ergonomics is defined as the study of people's efficiency in their working environment. The Department of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management is tasked with the responsibility of answering ergonomic concerns for university employees. Injuries that can be attributed to poor ergonomic set up include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Arm pain
  • Wrist pain
  • Headache
  • Eye strain
  • Leg discomfort

We are here to help with your ergonomic concerns. The Department of EHS & RM has a limited budget designated for purchasing equipment and furniture to help ensure a comfortable and safe work space. To begin the process, complete and submit a work space evaluation form. Items for consideration include:

  • Anti-glare screens
  • Wrist rests
  • Mouse pads with wrist rests
  • Monitor platforms
  • Document Holders
  • Keyboard trays
  • Chairs
  • Footrests

diagram of proper ergonomics at an adjustable desk Many MSU faculty and staff use an adjustable desk which allows users to stand or sit. The drawing to the right demonstrates best practices to consider in either position.

  1. Chair Height - with feet flat on the floor, your "backside" and knees should be at the same height, parallel to the floor.
  2. Chair Seat Depth - with your "backside" positioned far enough back to engage the back rest, the seat pan should carry the weight/length of your thighs with approximately 1-2 fingers of space between the front of the seat pan, and the rear of the upper calf.
  3. Arm Rest - should be positioned at a height that gently supports your arms/shoulders while allowing your forearm, wrist and hands to be "flat" or in a neutral position.
  4. Monitor Height - should be at an elevation where, when you are following the recommended posture position, your eyes focus on the top quarter of the screen.
  5. Monitor Distance/depth - should be approximately "an arm's length" from you in a seated position.
  6. Back Rest - should be adjusted to provide lumbar support to the lower portion of your back.

While there is no "correct" arrangement for everyone, there are suggestions we can make to help you be comfortable in your workspace.

  • Back comfort - Be aware of your posture; sit up straight. Your feet should be flat on the floor (don't cross your legs), and there should be no pressure points on the back of your thighs. Your arms should rest on the arm pads of your chair in such a way that you don't have to slouch. Your back should fit comfortably into the lumbar contour of the chair.
  • Eye strain - To prevent eye strain, the distance from your eyes to your monitor screen should be between 20-40 inches. The monitor height should be where your eyes look naturally at the top 1/3 of the screen when your head is held level. However, if you wear bi-focals or tri-focals, the monitor can be slightly lower.
  • Arms and wrists - To determine proper keyboard height, while properly seated, allow arms to hang naturally at your sides, then bring your forearms up until they are parallel with the floor. Now move your chair toward your keyboard. Your hands should lay naturally on the keyboard. Your wrists should not be bent in or out, up or down. Never rest your wrist on the sharp edge of your work station while keying.