Ergonomics Computer Principles
Laptops, iPads, Desktops

There are three main components of Ergonomics computer users have to be aware of.

Working at your desktop, laptop or tapping around on your iPad is often viewed as the place with the lowest risk of injury.

'Indoor' folks have the least amount of 'scars' as opposed to injuries from outdoor activities like basketball, tennis, skydiving etc - at least for now. However, in a couple of years, the injuries known as Musculoskeletal disorders start to develop. Some examples of computer injuries for instance are the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendonitis or the most common one, back pain.

That is where Ergonomics - the study and application can come in and save the day.

There are three main components of Ergonomics computer users have to be aware of.

1) Ergonomic posture at the computer

2) Good work habits

3) Ergonomic Workstation

Note that an ergonomic workstation is listed as the third priority.

This is because for many of us, we spend lots of time shuttling between several work places or have to 'make do' with the less-than-ideal workstation.

Having the knowledge of ergonomics and posture and practicing good work habits is thus the most important. With that knowledge, you are thus equipped to implement Ergonomics in your Workplace, or adjust your own work station at home.

Ergonomic Posture at a Computer - Computer Posture

computer posture

Ergonomic Computer posture and body setup is visually described in the picture above. There are a few variations of recommended computer posture, but I can assure you that the variations are slight.

Apart from trying to meet the above standards, there is one thing to remember - Try not to sit for long hours in front of the computer.

I know, most of us work with computers so this sounds impossible. YOu can minimize the harmful effects by taking breaks - getting up and doing something else for work like photocopying documents for five minutes.

Also the main problems with sitting come from the wrong neck posture when working at the computer. Their heads are too far forward. This happens when they strain their eyes too much at a computer. Hence the need for visual ergonomics.

Correct posture at a computer can sometimes be described as keyboarding posture - more about this can also be found on our computer posture page.

Good Work Habits

  1. Follow the "20/20 rule" --- every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds.

  2. Minimize glare.

  3. Have sufficient lighting when working. These prevents eye strain.

  4. Make effort to 'create' a variety of movements at work. Do not sit for too long in a chair. Practice some good ergonomic exercises.

  5. Reduce clutter.

  6. Ensure you have sufficient space on your desk to work and you are not suffering from overcrowding. Make sufficient space under your desk for your legs to move.

  7. Computer should be directly in front of you to minimize twisting.

  8. Keep the things you use frequently near you, to prevent over reaching.

  9. Exercise regularly. This will give you greater immunity from the strenuous computer work.

What Kind Of Workstation Do You Have?

While the principles of ergonomics computer users need to apply are the same, the way it is applied can differ to the different types of computers.

Ergonomic Workstation Principles

Workstation Ergonomics apply differently if you use a

1) Desktop

2) Laptop

3) Touch Pad / iPad

But these ergonomics computer principles below are universal

Ergonomic Lighting

Incandescent light is preferred over fluorescent lighting as it provides less strain on the eyes.

Reduce glare on the screen. Check if you have glare from your environment (if you sit near a window or if your office is made of glass), it may not be good for you. Your eyes will feel more comfortable if you choose to filter the light by lowering the blinds etc etc.

Ergonomic Chair

Usually the first step to making your work station ergonomic is to find a suitable chair. It should provide

  1. A good Backrest provides support for your lower back (lumbar area).

  2. Adequate Seat width and depth accommodate the specific user (seat pan not too big/small).

  3. A round ergonomics computer cushioned seat with a "waterfall" edge (no sharp edge).

  4. Height adjustable armrests - or the ability to take them off if you find that they interfere with movement.

When sitting on your ergonomic chair, ensure that you have

  1. Sufficient clearance space for your thighs - they are not rubbing against your keyboard tray or the underside of your desk

  2. that your Legs and feet have sufficient clearance space under the work surface.

  3. and that you are able to get close enough to the keyboard/input device.

Remember also to use an ergonomics Computer Footstool if your feet are not touching the floor, when your knees at a somewhat right angle (ideal working computer posture).

Click to read Ergonomic Chair Adjustment - How to Adjust Your Chair For Ergonomic Benefit


  • Check to see if Keyboard/input device platform(s) is stable and large enough to hold a keyboard and an input device.
  • Ensure that wrists and hands do not rest on sharp or hard edges.
  • The keyboard should be positioned at or below the elbow to keep the wrist aligned with the forearm or at a slightly negative angle. Keyboard tray is recommended for such purposes.

Click to read more about Ergonomics for Computer Keyboards.


1. Top of the screen is at eye level or slightly below so you can read it without bending your head or neck down/back. Place the center of the screen at a 15 degree down angle from your eyes. Ergonomics computer users with bifocals/trifocals should be able read the screen without bending the head or neck backward.

2. Monitor distance as far away as possible but still allows you to read the screen without leaning your head, neck or trunk forward/backward.

3. Monitor position is directly in front of you so you don't have to twist your head or neck.

4. Glare (for example, from windows, lights) is not reflected on your screen which can cause you to assume an awkward posture to clearly see information on your screen. Position the monitor to minimize glare by placing it at a right angle to light sources or windows.

5. Set the refresh rate at a minimum of 70 Hz to limit flicker.

For more information on Monitor Ergonomics, click here.


1. Input device (mouse or trackball) is located right next to your keyboard so it can be operated without reaching and at the same level as the keyboard.

2. Input device is easy to activate and the shape/size fits your hand (not too big/small).


Sufficient space is allowed to easily read hard-copy material close to you while working with the computer.


Overwhelmed? Don't be. Check out Ergonomic Pictures for a more bigger picture understanding.

Thank you for reading 'Ergonomics Computer'!

Go back to Computer Ergonomics.

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