Ergonomics on the Brain

Being the “new guy,” I had to attend an ergonomics orientation yesterday morning, led by an guy from our insurance company. Which makes sense if you think about it. Lower the incidence of RSI and you improve productivity while decreasing worker’s comp payouts. According to that logic, it’s a wonder health insurance companies aren’t doing more to get people to quit smoking, eat less, and exercise more. Or maybe they are, who knows?

So for an hour on Tuesday, a handful of new folks, some RSI sufferers, and I got to watch this guy sit in an office chair and give us pointers on how it should be adjusted, where our legs should be, what position our wrists and neck should be in. It was all useful information, but some of the off-the-cuff remarks he made suggested that we were being fed mostly anecdotal advice.

Anyway, last night I spent several hours writing some code and blog posts in my normal posture: laying down on the couch with a pillow propped up under my chest. Granted on Monday I went on a 2 hour hike/run and I was still sore, but I could feel all sorts of aches and pains in my neck and back. And all I could think about was this guy harping on the fact that if we endure moderate amounts of pain now, in few years we may be suffering from chronic wrist/neck/back pain. Ugh. Boo to that.

I think it may be time to investigate getting a computer desk at home with adjustable height and a supportive, adjustable desk chair.

update: I swear this is an affliction! Last night I spent an hour at Office Depot and Best Buy trying out ergonomic office chairs and desks. I picked up the best chair I tested–which conveniently ended up being the cheapest, $32.99. I hope that’s not a harbinger of quality.

desk chair.jpg

This post first appeared on From the Belly of the Beasts, a weblog from some of the people who build O’Reilly websites.

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