By Janice Homola, ARM, and Sandy Allen, CHSP, Coverys Workers’ Compensation Services

To slow the spread of COVID-19, healthcare coders, medical records employees, and others now work on laptops from home. In the absence of office equipment, you may need to be creative to set up a workspace that works for you. 

Create a productive work area

  • Find a quiet area. When possible, start working early so you are undisturbed and have faster internet speeds.
  • Be aware of your posture and how you feel; small adjustments make a very big difference. Avoid working in places like on your couch or in your recliner.

Your work surface and screen

  • Use a stable surface where you can get your legs and feet underneath. 
  • Place your laptop directly in front of you. If you have a separate keyboard, raise your laptop. It not, keep your laptop close to the surface edge to reduce your reach; angle the screen to reduce neck bending. 
  • If you are leaning in, move the laptop closer or enlarge the font. 

Your chair

  • Create seating such that you have relaxed shoulders, straight wrists, bent elbows in an L shape, and your forearms are parallel to the floor. If needed, add pillows or cushions to raise your seat; use a stable platform, similar to a stool, for your feet.
  • Add back support. Use rolled up material in the small of your back. 

Your mouse
Place the mouse right next to the keyboard; reaching can cause shoulder discomfort. If you choose to use a wrist rest, use something soft with rounded edges, like a rolled up microfiber washcloth. 

Phone use 
Headsets or earbuds cut down on outside distractions, are a visible cue to others, and do not require neck bending. Other options are to use a speakerphone or take calls in a quiet area. Educate your family about interruptions during calls.

Cords
Reduce trip hazards: move your work surface near the wall, use a three-prong grounded extension cord, or tape down the cord with duct tape. 

Lighting
Good light reduces eyestrain and improves alertness. Sit with a window by your side and/or use a lamp for task lighting.

Stretches and movement
Change your position, stretch, and move occasionally to reduce stiffness and discomfort. Take a walking break outdoors to improve comfort and reduce stress. For ideas on stretching, see Stretches for Workstation Comfort.

Take the time to experiment and find what works best for you. 

 

This article is a work product of Coverys' Workers Compensation Services. This information is intended to provide general guidelines for educational purposes. It is not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice. Please consult with your risk control consultant/professional with respect to the use or development of your own safety management program.