Class: Human Factors in Information Systems, IFSM 303
Section: 4221
Name of article: Hot Tips on Ergonomic Equipment
Author: Micheal Roberts,B.App.Sci.(Physiotherapy)
Publication: The RSI Network, Issue 33
Publication Date: December 31, 1998
Due Date: March 18, 1998

Chairs are the most popular pieces of ergonomic equipment, and also the most missed-used. The author found that 80% of people don't adjust the chairs properly. Most chairs are designed to fit 80-90% of the population, but you may not fit into this 80-90%. You should see if you could sit in the chair at your desk before you select it. After the chair been adjusted to suit you, check the backrest to ensure it provides support for your entire back including the lower portion. Make sure you can make adjustments easily from a sitting position. Make sure you can put your entire sole of your foot down on the floor. Armrest should be low and short enough to fit under you desk.
Footrest should only be used for short people. They are often bought and not really needed. If you can put your entire sole of your foot down on the floor you don't need one.
Inclined work surfaces can also help your work environment. The author found studies that showed a 10-degree incline could reduce 20-30% of stresses on your lower back and neck. People also tend to sit in better posture that have inclined work surfaces. Anyone that spends more than an hour a day at his or her work surface (desk) should be using an inclined surface. You could inexpensively put a brick or board under you back desk legs to get this incline.
The top of the monitor screen should be at eye level. If it's not you can use a monitor raising device or some old telephone books to reach that height. The monitor should be around an arm length away from your face.
Document holders should be used for people copy documents or input data from documents. They reduce neck strain. They also speed up your typing. They should be installed at the same height as your monitor and right next to it.
Glare screens are for people who work in brightly-lit work environments. It prevents eyestrain and headaches from glare.
Therapists agree that you should take breaks from you computer. There is software that will remind you to take breaks and to stretch and refresh yourself.

Everything the author said sounds great. However, who's gonna buy this ergonomic equipment. After finding out how a chair should fit me I went in search of a new one, not at the store, but in other peoples offices. I did find one that does fit me better.
I've given considerable thought about putting some bricks under the back legs of my desk, but I'm scared my 17,000 dollar SGI computer will slide off and break. I don't think the boss would like that.
I've attached glare screens to my monitor but I had to turn the brightness up all the way so I could see the screen. I personally don't like glare screens. To reduce glare I end up turning most of the lights off, and since I have no windows, outside light is not a problem. I've notice my co-workers turn most of their lights off also.
The footrest section was interesting. My boss gets all the latest gadgets and he has one, but he's about six foot four and doesn't need one according to the article. Great example of not using ergonomic product properly.
There been times I wished I've had a document holder, but I've made do but looking up and then down and then loosing my place in the document and then finding it and then looking up and then down, etc.
The final section was about software that reminds you to take breaks. I found gym break on the Internet and it allows you to run it for a few days without purchasing it. I tried it, and every time it told me to take a break, I was so into what I was doing, and didn't want to loose my train of thought, I hit ctrl-alt-delete and stopped the gym break process.
I feel ergonomic products used properly are useful, but until management buys in on it the