More and more individuals are now working from 2 computer monitors in the office environment.  The question I have for you is, How many of you reading this article that currently have computer monitors actually know if your workstation ergonomic set up is correct?  The aim of this article is to provide you with some simple options to improve your current monitor position so that you can reduce your risk of developing neck, shoulder and back strains and sprains.

The Worker With One Screen

Working with one monitor is probably still the most common computer workstation set up.  The most important thing about the single monitor is position.  The monitor should be placed directly in front of the worker.  A monitor that is not directly in front of the worker requires the worker to either rotate their neck, trunk or both.  Performing computer tasks for long periods of time over the day with your head or trunk rotated will only increase the risk of developing musculoskeletal strains and sprains.  The monitor should be approximately 60cm from the worker (approximately arms length away).  The worker should be looking straight ahead and have their eye line fall between the top of the monitor and top 1/3.  The image below represents where a monitor should sit for the everyday worker.  Generally the only time that a monitor might sit slightly lower than this suggested height is when the worker is wearing bi-focal glasses.  A monitor too high for workers with bi-focal glasses will often adapt their head position by tilting it into extension and this may increase their risk of developing neck pain.

 

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The Worker Who Uses Both Screens Equally (50/50 Use)

Workers who spend an equal amount of time on each monitor should set their monitors up so that the keyboard/mouse are sitting in the centre of both.  The image below demonstrates this below.  The reason we will generally recommend this type of set up is that the worker will look left to right equally.  A worker who spends 50/50 of their time looking at their monitors and doesn’t have it set up like this will be required to spend more time rotating their head to the side where the second monitor is located.  Over the course of a day a typically worker can spend 7-8 hours working at their computer and looking at the computer screens and if they are required to spend 50% of that time rotating to one direction because they are not sitting centre of the two screens, the risk of developing neck pain may increase.

 

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The Worker Who Spends More Time On One Screen (70/30 Use)

The worker who spends more time looking at one primary monitor i.e. 70%, 80% or 90% compared to the secondary monitor is often advised to sit directly in front of the primary monitor.  Therefore the worker is only required to rotate their head to one side for anywhere between 10-30% of the time.  The image below is a good example of someone who spends most of their day looking at the screen directly in front of the keyboard.

 

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The Worker Who Has Two Different Size Screens i.e.  Primary Monitor & Secondary Laptop

The workstation that has two different monitors as demonstrated in the images below is commonly observed.  Often these workers perform some work from home or whilst travelling.  For workers who will spend 50% of their time on both of their monitors (large monitor and laptop) should look to raise the laptop monitor to a position in line with the larger screen. This means the worker is less likely to need to flex and slouch through the trunk. The direct image below is a good example of this set up.

 

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There a number of different laptop stands that can be used in the office and the image below represents another example of how the laptop can be raised.

 

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For workers who may only spend 10-30% of their day looking at the secondary laptop monitor, it is suggested that using a laptop riser would be preferred.  In situations where this is not possible, placing the monitor on the desk is the other option. The image below is a good example of this.

 

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Right Versus Left Side Dominance

It is important for workers who are using a secondary monitor to be mindful of left and right side dominance.  This means that workers who have their mouse on the right side should think about whether their secondary monitor or telephone is placed on the left.  Where possible, it is suggested to avoid placing their secondary monitor, telephone and mouse on the right side.

Note:  If you find that these workstation suggestions are not comfortable or you feel that a further in depth assessment is required, please speak to your Human Resources or Occupational Health and Safety Rep to gain further guidance and advice.  If you require a further in depth assessment with an external consultant, Corporate Work Health Australia Pty Ltd are a nationwide business that has Osteopaths, Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologists performing these across the country in all major cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Canberra, Darwin and Brisbane).  Find out more information at www.corporateworkhealth.com.

This blog was written by Osteopath Heath Williams.  Heath is the director of Principle Four Osteopathy and Corporate Work Health Australia.  Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD 3000 leading Osteopathic clinics.  The clinic is located in the heart of the Melbourne CBD at 29 Somerset Place (near the corner of Little Bourke & Elizabeth St).  Appointments can be made by calling 03 9670 9290 or booking online @ www.principlefourosteopathy.com.