Office Ergonomics: Keyboards

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The arrangement and use of the keyboard is important to help reduce awkward postures, repetitive strain, and contact stress—things that can lead to a variety of musculoskeletal disorders.

The first factor to consider is keyboard height. A keyboard that is too high or low can lead to awkward wrist, arm, or shoulder postures, resulting in pain, soreness, and discomfort. In order to avoid potential injury, adjust the chair and work surface height in order to maintain a neutral body posture: elbows at keyboard height, hanging comfortably to the side, shoulders relaxed, and wrists unbent.

A keyboard that is too close or too far away may also be hazardous. Your keyboard should be placed directly in front of you at a distance that allows your elbows to stay close to your body with your forearms approximately parallel with the floor. In certain instances, if you have limited desk space, a keyboard tray may be useful.

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The type of keyboard you use may also be hazardous. Certain keyboards may cause you to bend your wrists sideways to reach all the keys; others may cause you to bend your wrists up at an unnatural angle. Additionally, smaller keyboards, such as those found on laptops, mini notebooks, or tablets, may also contribute to stressful postures. In order to avoid injury, try to raise or lower your chair, elevate or lower the keyboard using the keyboard feet, or, if none of these suggestions work, consider replacing your keyboard with an alternative keyboard.

By following the guidelines above, you can achieve a safe, comfortable typing experience.