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Ergonomics frequently asked questions

How do I get an ergonomics assessment?

Office Assessments:
UBC has a five-step tiered process in order to be able to reach as many of our staff and faculty as possible.

If you have been away from work due to an injury and/or you have a medical condition warranting an accommodation and ergonomics assessment, it is recommended that you first work with a Workplace Health Services Case Coordinator to review your medical needs.

Non-Office Assessments:
If you are interested in an ergonomics assessment in a non-office environment, please contact UBC’s Ergonomics Advisor.

Do I need a sit-stand desk?

Please refer to UBC’s Sit-Stand FAQs

Do I need a keyboard tray?

Whether you need a keyboard tray depends on your height relative to your desk. Your keyboard and mouse should be just below elbow level. Given that the standard desk height is between 28 and 30” this means that most people either need to raise their chair and get a footrest or obtain a keyboard tray.

You can refer to ergotron’s calculator to get a rough estimate of how high your keyboard should be for your height; please note that this is a rough estimate as individual proportions will vary.

Bifocals: For individuals with bifocals it is recommended that they raise their chair and get a footrest rather than use a keyboard tray. The reason for this is that people wearing bifocals need to sit high relative to their monitor.

Do ergonomic keyboards and mice help?

The science of ergonomics is about fitting the task to the human; as such, whether a keyboard or mouse is ergonomic depends on who is using it, as well as where and how they are using it.

When manufacturers label keyboards and mice as ‘ergonomic’ they typically mean that the equipment facilitates a more neutral working posture, e.g. the wrist and forearm position are partially rotated towards a handshake position rather than pronated. While such equipment can be helpful, particularly for those with forearm and wrist injuries, it is suggested that you first make sure your keyboard and mouse are positioned at the right height, i.e. slightly below elbow level. Having a special keyboard or mouse won’t help you if it’s still at the wrong height. Additionally, ‘ergonomic’ keyboards and mice tend to be expensive and therefore we encourage trialing low cost items first.

It is up to individual departments to purchase equipment for staff. If you are interested in purchasing an ‘ergonomic’ keyboard or mouse for preventative reasons talk with your supervisor or manager to determine if sufficient funding is available. If you require an ‘ergonomic’ keyboard/mouse as an accommodation due to a medical disability then talk to your supervisor and work with a Workplace Health Services Case Coordinator to review your medical needs.

The UBC Ergonomics Program has an equipment loaner program where select keyboards and mice can be trialed for 1-2 weeks. This program can be accessed through your department Office Ergo Rep training sessions.

Should I use my laptop as my primary computer all day, every day?

If you regularly use your laptop more than two hours per day, it is recommended that you obtain an external keyboard and mouse. Please see our online guide.

I wear bifocals. Does that change anything about my set up?

Wearing bifocals changes how you look at the computer screen; for most people, it means looking through the bottom portion of your glasses to see your monitor. Therefore, people wearing bifocals need to have their monitors positioned low, i.e. the top of the screen should be below eye level. With the exception of tall individuals, this generally means that people with bifocals should raise their chair and get a footrest if needed, or lower their desk, or get a low profile or touch screen monitor stand.

How can I find free ergo equipment?

UBC has an Ergonomic Equipment Re-Use program. UBC employees can find and/or offer reusable office ergonomic equipment on Re-Use it! UBC.

This program was made available by Enrolment Services.

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