Back To School and Ergonomics? Of Course!

Whether you are a college student, or you have a family member who is a student, you may be hearing rumblings about “back to school”!  A new school year involves many things, including buying key items and transitioning to a different daily schedule of activities.  Here are some “back to school” tips!

  • Buying a back pack:
    • Make sure there are two padded, comfortable, shoulder straps.
    • Make sure it’s a good fit. Do not buy a large adult size back pack for a small child.
    • Multiple compartments can be helpful, by allowing the weight to be spread out.
  • Packing and wearing a back pack:
    • The weight of the back pack should not exceed 15% of the student’s body weight. For a 100 pound student, that’s 15 pounds.  For a 60 pound student, that’s just 9 pounds.
    • Place the heaviest items closest to the back.
    • Adjust and position the back pack so that it doesn’t fall below the hips.
    • Use of a waist belt can help to distribute the load and secure the back pack while walking.
  • Using a laptop for extended periods:
    • Use a stand or laptop holder to position the monitor at the correct height, and use a peripheral keyboard and mouse. The keyboard and mouse should be at about elbow height, and the monitor should be at or slightly below eye level.
    • Sit in a quality chair that provides lumbar support, and make sure the feet are supported. Avoid periods of prolonged sitting by standing periodically.
    • Take a break every 30 minutes! Stretch, move, walk around!
  • “Work environment” Homework is work, right?
    • Provide a dedicated work space for your student, away from distractions.
    • Make sure lighting is adequate.

By eliminating awkward postures, designing the work space appropriately, limiting time on digital devices, and avoiding the “back pack overload”, risk for fatigue and injury can be significantly reduced.  Many ergonomic concepts can be applied here.  It’s all about reducing (or eliminating) the risks!  Manage the risks…. not the consequences.

Have a great year!

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