Ergonomic Workspace Analysis

Abstract Posture analysis Alternate layouts Conclusions

Office Set-up and Reconfiguration

Office equipment setup: pre-intervention.

The IBM computer space had a pullout keyboard tray. The subject kept the mouse atop the desk and positioned the IBM as far away from her as possible. This maximized the space in front of her and allowed her to keep current documents. This setup bothered her in a few ways. Because the mouse was on the desk, she needed to lurch forward to use it. In doing this, she also had to bring her right arm towards the limit of its range. The monitor sat rather high (top height of monitor: 53 inches), her normal seated height was 52 inches, and because she wore bifocals, she needed to tilt her head backward to see the screen clearly. This position gave her neck and shoulder pain.

The Macintosh computer space was located on a small desk at the other side of her workspace. In this setup, the monitor, CPU, keyboard, and mouse rested on the desk in front of her. It seemed that there was little room for the computer, because it was positioned far to the right to allow the storage of other items. When using the telephone, she complained of a discomfort in her left shoulder. Because of her injury to her right shoulder, she typically answered the telephone with her left hand.

The subject indicated that she never felt the layout of her workspace was quite right. She did not like the distance between the two computers and wished they could be brought closer. She was the sole user of a large laser printer located just outside her space. She wished that she had enough room to house the printer in her work area. She needed to store many supplies and did not have enough spaces to keep them. She felt the paper clutter slowed her work rate. She indicated that wall space to hang items was very convenient and would like more space to hang her papers.

Component Reconfiguration

To intervene with a better workspace component configuration, a scaled layout of the work surfaces and components were used to simulate different layouts. The students and the subject experimented with component configurations by positioning cut-out components along the scaled work surface until a suitable layout was found. It was determined that the most important components of the workstation were the computers and phone, and these were the components focused on in the component configuration. This new layout catered to the problem of the two computers on opposite sides of the workspace. Now, the IBM computer was located at the far right of the desk and the IBM CPU had been exchanged for a floor mounted columnar CPU. The IBM monitor now sat atop a monitor platform. The Macintosh was positioned where the IBM once was, and the telephone was in between the two computers. The IBM was purposely set to the far right the to discourage the use of the right arm. In this location, she would reach for the ringing telephone and the upright CPU with her left arm. The Macintosh was used less frequently, so it was acceptable to the subject to place it on the left side of the phone.

At the end of the component reconfiguration, all suggested improvements were implemented. Both new computer locations had previously mounted pullout keyboard trays. These trays were replaced with negatively-sloping keyboard trays. For the Macintosh, a pullout mouse pad was also installed. This mouse pad could be adjusted to cover the numeric keypad, which was a part of the keyboard rarely used by the subject. Now, she did not have to lurch forward to use the mouse; instead, she could sit back, relax her posture, and not raise her head as high to see through the bifocal section of her glasses (see image).

The new IBM keyboard tray had a built-in touchpad to perform the same functions as a mouse. This way, subject could input information into the computer without removing her hands from the keyboard tray.

In front of the Macintosh computer, a sloping paper holder was affixed to the desk. Before, the subject would have to peer over the keyboard to read a paper laying flat on the surface of the desk (see image). Now, she could rest her papers on the holder which angled towards her. This eliminated unnecessary leaning toward the desk.

M. S.

Abstract Posture analysis Alternate layouts Conclusions

This page created by
Michele Segal ( and Richard Porter(
Last modified May 16, 1997