Minding Your Posture: New Ergonomic Training

EVCP Expresso graphic – August 2022

How are you feeling? Has your body been talking to you about little (or not so little) tweaks?

Wherever we’re working, whether on site, hybrid, or remotely, we all need to keep good ergonomic habits at the top of our minds, and for many of us, it’s pretty easy to forget and spend too many hours on one task, like for those of us who sit all day in front of our computers.

You can do real damage to your body, not to mention your mental health, if you don’t take breaks, move around, and make sure you maintain good posture. And while our ergonomists work hard to provide guidance on the correct setup for workstations, it’s incumbent on each one of us to make sure our home environment is equipped to keep us safe and healthy.

To that end, our ergonomics team has created a new training that is required for people who use a computer four or more hours a day, and it’s recommended for anyone who uses a computer at all. The good news is the training clips are short, animated, fun to watch, and full of good information – and they incorporate principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA).

Kudos to Kristin Amlie, principal ergonomist and Ergonomics & Human Factors Program manager, and her team for partnering with the Ergonomics Program and an animator from UC Davis, and for their commitment to incorporating DEIA principles from the start. The training meets digital accessibility requirements, and the animations include people with different abilities and backgrounds.

When a lot of people started working from home in March 2020, UCSF quickly offered ergonomics training. Now that hybrid work (as job functions allow) seems likely here to stay for the foreseeable future, the training has had an important refresh based on the past two years. Before, there were separate trainings for home and office work, but the new streamlined version covers both scenarios.

The training, Ergonomics Essentials for Computer Users, includes seven short animations, and each is one to three minutes:

  1. Laptop safety
  2. Seating
  3. Worksurfaces
  4. Keyboards and mice
  5. Monitors and lighting
  6. Schedule and breaks
  7. Putting it all together/Taking action

You may even know intuitively what some of the messages will be. For instance, Kristin notes that it’s not safe to work directly on a laptop. It’s actually a horrible name for the computer, since you should never work on one while it’s sitting on your lap!

Instead, get a lightweight laptop kit from BearBuy – usual purchase approval will be necessary – so that you can elevate the laptop (use books to raise your monitor if you don’t have a laptop stand) and use an external mouse and keyboard, keeping your eyes on the screen and your wrists at all the right angles. Check out the one-minute training video on laptop kits.

Remember that each department has its own internal policy in this regard, so consult with your local administrator accordingly to see if you can get other items, like chairs and desks, to improve your home ergonomic setup. The ergonomics team has a fantastic website with a ton of resources, but be sure to stick with that site and BearBuy because many products with popular online retailers claim to be ergonomic with little to back it up.

Your health and safety are vitally important, so please prioritize completing this training so you can feel your best wherever you work. One last important tip that’s pretty easy to remember – the 20-20-20 rule: To avoid visual fatigue, every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Your eyes will thank you!

Here’s to your health and wellbeing.

See more EVCP Expresso: https://evcprovost.ucsf.edu/evcp-expresso/202208