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Ergonomics is the study of the interaction between people and their work environments. The goal of ergonomics is to adapt the work environment to the employee. Generally, we can make employees more comfortable at their work station with minor adjustments.

Adjust Your Work Area

The goal of adjusting your work area is to fit your equipment to you, rather than working around your belongings or current processes. Make adjustments in the following order:

  1. Adjust essential equipment, such as your chair, monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  2. Adjust items that are used frequently, such as your phone or calculator.
  3. Adjust items you use only occasionally, such as binders and books.

Move Around, Take Breaks, and Stretch

  • Vary your tasks as much as possible throughout the day. Consider reorganizing, reordering, or prioritizing your work differently.
  • Incorporate physical movement whenever possible. For example, take the opportunity to stand while taking on the phone or place reference materials on shelves or a location that requires you to turn your whole body, stand, or walk to retrieve them.
  • Avoid remaining seated at your work station or using the computer during regular break times – walk or stretch instead.
  • Avoid reaching and lifting for items – stand up and take a few steps instead.
  • Avoid bending your back to move or pick up items – squat and use your legs instead.

Take Micro-Breaks

A micro-break is a 20 to 30 second break to do any of the following:

  • Change your position after an hour of sitting.
  • Stand up to do another task, walk to another office, or just stretch.
  • Relax and stretch your hands, wrists, and arms every 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Rest your eyes at least once per hour. Try cupping your hands over your eyes for 30 seconds or looking at a distant object for 30 seconds.

Make Sure to Stretch


  • Lower your right ear to your right shoulder and hold for five seconds then switch to left ear and repeat five times.
  • Turn your head and look over your shoulder and five seconds. Switch and repeat four times.

Shoulders and Arms

  • Put your hands up like a goal post and push your arms back, squeezing your shoulder blades. Hold for five seconds, then relax and repeat as needed.
  • Drop your arms and hands at your side and shake them out for a few seconds. Relax and repeat as needed.


  • Take one hand and gently bend back the fingers until the wrist is bent back. Hold for five seconds, relax, and repeat on the other side.
  • At chest height, press both hands together and lower hands toward your desk, until you feel the stretch in the wrists. Hold for five seconds, relax, and repeat as needed.
  • Spread your fingers wide and hold for five seconds. Relax and repeat as needed.
  • Curl fingers into a fist starting with the little finger, then curl the wrists and hold for five seconds. Relax and repeat.
  • Massage inside and outside of hand with thumb and fingers then shake out.

Lower Back

  • Stand up and slowly arch your back with your hands supporting your lower back and hold for five seconds. Relax and repeat.
  • With your left arm above your head, lean to the right and hold for five seconds. Relax and repeat on other side.

Request an Ergonomic Evaluation

Employees may request an ergonomic evaluation of their work stations through their supervisor. Please explain why you want the evaluation. If you have a doctor's note requesting an ergonomic evaluation, then please include that with your request.

Your supervisor will forward the request through the appropriate channels to the vice president of administration (VPA) or director. The VPA or director will forward the request to Risk Management, who will then schedule an appointment with you. After the evaluation, Risk Management will send a report with recommendations to the VPA or director.

Supervisors and managers can also request ergonomic evaluations on behalf of their employees.

What Happens During an Ergonomic Evaluation?

During the evaluation, we will:

  • Review your working posture
  • Teach you how to adjust your chair, keyboard, and mouse
  • Review the location of other office equipment (such as your phone, calculator, document holder, and so on)
  • Discuss the importance of stretching and taking micro-breaks

Based on the evaluation, we may provide equipment (such as a chair) for the employee to try out for a short period of time to see if it improves the employee's comfort or helps correct their posture. Based on the results of the demo equipment, we may make an equipment recommendation in the report that will be sent to the VPA.

Additional Resources