It is the study of the workplace. Its purpose is to study people in their work environment and make determinations of whether the worker is using his/her work space in the most efficient manner and without risk of injury. REM is currently concentrating on office ergonomics, but is available to do ergonomics in work areas other than offices.
Injuries that can be attributed to poor office ergonomic setup can range from simple discomfort to disabling ailments that have to be remedied by a physician and/or surgery. Some symptoms of discomfort associated with work space setup are:
The following is a short description of the postures that should be maintained while working at a computer work station.
Start with the chair: It should be at a height that allows the feet to be placed flat on the floor with the thighs level or slightly pointed down. There should be no pressure on the back of the thigh. Sit up straight allowing the natural curve of the spine to contour to the lumbar support of the chair. This posture will put the user at the proper sitting height to use the computer.
Next is the keyboard height: Let the arms hang naturally at the sides and bring the forearms up until they are parallel with the floor. With the hands extending naturally from the wrists, move up to the keyboard, the hands should lay naturally on the keys. This is the proper keying height. The wrists should not bend in, out, up, or down, but should maintain a straight line from the top of the forearm across the back of the hand. Do not rest the wrists on the sharp edge of the work station surface while keying.
The last step is to maintain the proper monitor distance and height: Sitting in the keying position, set the distance to the monitor screen at arms length ( this can vary depending on the user's visual acuity). The height of the monitor should be where the eyes look naturally at the top 1/3 of the screen when the head is held level. If the user wears bi or trifocals, the monitor will usually be positioned at a lower level so the user does not have to tilt the head up to view the screen.
With these simple postures in mind, many people can solve their own ergonomic problems when working at a computer work station.
Contact IPFW REM for an ergonomic evaluation.