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Ergonomic computer equipment: your health is in your hands

Computer use has long since found its way into companies and educational institutions as well as into private households. Today, more than 84% of all European households in Germany have at least one computer. Many companies are no longer able to operate without being online, and PCs are also replacing blackboards or paper and pencil at schools and universities across the board.
Combined with the professional use of the computer, it requires in most cases the use of powerful PC input devices - such as the mouse or the keyboard.
But watch out! Incorrect use and unsuitable or unergonomic devices are increasingly leading to health problems, because both can put particular strain on our cervical spine, our muscles and also our joints (mainly in the shoulder and hand).
This makes us ill in the long run and inevitably limits the workload as well as the quality of work. Sick days are the consequence and the personal quality of life suffers at the latest when the problems become chronic.

Back-friendly design of the workplace

But how can you counteract this pain? If you spend a lot of your working day at the computer, a back-friendly design of the workplace is an indispensable aid.
In addition to lighting, space, room climate and furniture, ergonomic PC input devices such as mouse and keyboard are of course among the most important components of an ergonomic workplace design.
However, different people have different preferences. How good that you can find the right input devices for your preferred application:

Computer mouse

The mouse should permit an ergonomically appropriate working position that counteracts problems in the wrist joint and in the linked chain of joints and muscles up to the cervical spine.

Centred computer mouse

An alternative to the conventional mouse is a centred computer mouse. This is characterised by the fact that it can be operated with both hands and is positioned close to the body. This also avoids muscular strain in the neck area and problems in the wrist.

Keyboard

An ergonomic keyboard allows to hold the her hands in a physically appropriate way, in order to help to prevent tension- and stress-related pain.

Both computer mouse and keyboard can be arranged flexibly and operated without interference. A health-promoting position of the fingers, hand and wrist is ensured by the design and handling. The use of the work equipment does not cause any additional stress on the psyche, body and eyesight.

Basically, light-coloured keyboards with dark lettering offer a higher-contrast vision. This is more relaxing and less tiring for the eyes.

Short distance between hands and spinal column

While handling all these input devices, generally the upper and lower arm should preferably be held at right angles to keep the load of the arm as close as possible to the spinal column. In this context it is also important to consider the height of the working surface, the desk and the adjustment of the chair.

Every increase in distance between hands and spinal column results in higher static strain which can cause problems. It is beneficial to the health to keep the input devices as close as possible to the body. The so-called "long arm" position frequently causes problems in the shoulders. The further the hand is from the body, the greater the strain in the cervical column. This can cause stress and tension. It must be possible to rest the wrist joints in relaxed fashion when not entering data on the computer, e.g. with an integrated wrist support or a forearm rest.

Final remarks

PC input devices are an important part of the office workstation: Their functionality depends on the entire workplace being ergonomically designed.

Checklist

The computer mouse in brief

  • The mouse must be anatomically suitable for the hand, i.e. it must correspond to the functional/anatomic/topographic shape of the palm and to the size of the hand. Simply put, it should lie comfortably in the hand.
  • It must be possible to operate the mouse easily with minimum force. It is important for the mouse to permit differentiated (changing) use of the hand and finger muscles.
  • Task-specific use of the mouse should be possible on differently structured working surfaces (background).
  • It should be possible to use the mouse with different fingers (e.g. index finger, middle finger). One-sided use of the index finger for typical click movements should be reduced, e.g. by using other fingers for the same function. If necessary, additional mouse buttons should be available for users with sensomotoric restrictions.
  • There must not be any delays in transmission when using the mouse to access a required text field or a sign on the screen. Otherwise the user applies additional force by reflex when moving the mouse to reinforce the input command. This kind of psychological and physical reaction can cause muscular tension in the shoulders and wrists.
  • The mouse must be used intuitively and in accordance with the specific tasks. Transmission of the mouse movements to the cursor on the screen should be as expected, i.e. direct.
  • It shall be possible to adjust the response speed of the computer mouse to support the user's individual way of working.
  • There are also computer mouse with a trackball. They are sometimes used in areas where a classic moveable mouse cannot be used. A mouse with a trackball keeps its place, because the movement of the cursor is done by an easily rotatable ball (trackball). The use of a trackball should be weighed against a classic or vertical mouse.

The centred computer mouse in brief

  • The centred computer mouse must be suitable for the hand, i.e. it must correspond to the functional-anatomical-topographical conditions of the hand and the size of the hand. Simply put, it should be comfortable to use.
  • The mouse must be easy to operate with little force. It is important to allow the hand and finger muscles to be used as alternately as possible.
  • The mouse buttons should be operable with the fingers of both hands. Under certain circumstances, additional mouse buttons (e.g. for the thumb) should be available in the case of sensorimotor impairments.
  • When using the mouse to access a desired text field or a character on the screen, there should be no delays in transmission.
  • The movement of the mouse must be intuitive and appropriate to the task. The transfer of the mouse movement to the movement of the cursor on the screen shall be in conformity with expectations, i.e. direct.
  • It shall be possible to adjust the reaction speed of the centred computer mouse to support the user's individual way of working.

Minimum requirements

  • The mouse must be anatomically suitable for the hand
  • The hand is relaxed when placed on the mouse
  • The mouse must be suitable for hands of different sizes, e.g. through models in different sizes
  • The mouse must permit targeted, precise work activity in line with expectations
  • It must be possible to adjust the reaction speed of the mouse to the user's individual way of working
  • Easy to use, with differentiated use of the finger and hand muscles
  • Free of pollution

Also appropriate

  • Additional additional mouse buttons
  • Different materials can be used to position the hand in the expected way
  • Surface materials prevent additional persipration
  • Also available for left-handed persons or with corresponding adjustments
  • More information is available for ergonomic use

The keyboard in brief

  • It must be possible to use the keyboard holding the arms near to the body with the shoulders relaxed. 
  • It must be possible to use the keyboard without bending the wrists. The forearms can be supported to relieve strain. This can be done, for example, through the flat design of the keyboards on the tabletop, a palm rest or an optional forearm support. When typing, the palms or wrists do not come into contact with a disturbing surface.
  • The keys work easily. Short, easy key strokes are kind to joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
  • Acoustic feedback from the keys should be clearly perceptible but not a nuisance or obtrusive.
  • The keys must have clearly visible symbols. These symbols should be wear-resistant.
  • The keyboard must allow flexible application. Wireless versions naturally offer the greatest possible flexibility.
  • For easy familiarization, the construction of the keyboard must meet the expectations of a standard commercial keyboard.

Minimum requirements

  • The keyboard blocks are positioned for relaxed working close to the body, preventing bending in the wrists
  • The palms can be rested during input intervals
  • Acoustic and haptic feedback on pressing the keys
  • Can be easily handled by touch typists and non-touch typists without having to learn
  • Flexible use in the workplace
  • Designed to be easy to get used to
  • Stable position
  • Free of pollution

Also appropriate

  • Easy to clean
  • More information is available for ergonomic use
  • Automatic indication of movement pauses

Products in this sector with the AGR seal of approval

    Computer mouse

    Keyboard

    Manufacturer

    Contour Design Nordic A/S*
    Nyropsgade 39-41, 1st floor
    1602 Copenhagen V
    DENMARK
    Contact: Rob Dimmer – Channel Manager UK & Ireland
    phone: +44 7428 201469
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    www.contourdesign.com

    Logitech Europe SA**
    Daniel Borel Innovation Center
    1015 Lausanne
    SWITZERLAND
    Phone +41218630
    www.logitech.com

    R-Go Tools B.V.***
    Techniekweg 15
    4143HW Leerdam
    NETHERLANDS
    Phone +31345/758000
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    www.r-go-tools.de

    Further information

    Video


    Pictures

    Ergonomic, anatomically correct working at the computer

    Natural, fatigue-free working at the computer