Let’s review the basic principles of setting up your monitor ergonomically. Ensure it’s no more than an arm’s length from the body and that it is at an appropriate height. When looking straight ahead the monitor should be directly in front of you and majority of the information being viewed does not cause you to look up or down and that the monitor itself is not tilted up or down. If a person is wearing bifocal, progressive or blended lenses, be aware of what portion of the lens you look through and adjust your monitor height accordingly; if looking up or down to view the screen, then the monitor is not at the correct height. The use of ‘computer specific’ lenses can eliminate the need for these special instructions, allowing the user to look through the center portion of the lens to view the screen. The monitor should be centered with the center of the keyboard and the body.
As monitors have evolved, they vary in size, height and length. The average single monitor is about 19’-22”. Many offices have implemented the usage of two monitors. While this can be helpful in referencing information from one screen to the other, if the monitors are not set-up properly or are too large, they can cause repetitive neck movement, straining the neck, shoulders and upper back.
The two monitors should be the same size and height as one another, measured from the top of the screen and the point at which the two monitors meet should be centered with the center of the keyboard and the body. To decrease neck movement, arc the monitors so they form a ‘V’ at the point they meet. Try not to use two monitors larger than 20” each. The larger the monitors total distance from one side to the other, the greater chance of repeated neck movement. And, if at all possible, switch from dual monitors to one monitor that ranges from 24”-26” inches, as this size monitor will still allow you to reference one program or document to another on the same screen.
When looking at more than two monitors, The eyes work more efficiently going side-to-side rather than up and down, and even more so when all the objects are at the same viewing distance. Use the ‘arc’ setup and make sure to swivel the chair and shift the keyboard and mouse when needed to sit and face each monitor directly when viewing.
For more information on office and industrial ergonomics, products and furniture, you will find additional articles on the JR Ergonomics Blog.
If you would like more information on setting up your workstation, choosing the right chair or have other ergonomic questions or concerns, feel free to contact me via email or phone. Jennifer Rappaport, MOTR/L, CPE • 503-380-5550 • firstname.lastname@example.org