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Workplace Stress

It is increasingly important to address the relationship between stress and ergonomics, and to examine all aspects of stress.  

For example, some stress is good, even essential.  Too little stress and work becomes boring; inattention occurs.  An optional level of stress keeps people keyed up, engaged in their work.  After a certain point, however, additional stress can build to levels that are counter-productive and potentially unhealthy.

In the office environment - with rapid changes in work process and information technology - a negative level of stress can often result from the mismatch between job demands and what the human mind and body can provide.

The agents that cause stress are called stressors; or clinically, traumatogens.  By properly identifying - then eliminating or minimizing - the source of stressors, stress can be reduced.  Physically, little aches and pains go away; psychologically a person's outlook, enthusiasm, and performance can be improved.

Although there is no perfect posture when seated, the ideal seated posture is one that keeps the body in a "neutral" position while working; this means keeping the body in its natural alignment with minimal stress or strain.  In neutral position, the arms swing naturally at the body's side with forearms roughly perpendicular to the upper arms; neutral wrists follow the plane of the arm without being bent or flexed; and the spine maintains the same natural s-curve as when standing.  Shoulders should be relaxed, and the head upright with a slightly forward tilt.

A standing posture can provide a healthful break from long periods of sitting,  because standing promotes a natural alignment for the spine and arms.  Standing work, however, requires either that the worksurface - including VDT and keyboard - be adjustable in height over a seated-to-standing range, or that separate seated and standing workstations be available.


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