Apple’s Guide to Ergonomics

Apple has published a guide to ergonomics on its site since as long as I can remember (2002 perhaps?) and it remains relevant, but severely outdated. I’ve been secretly hoping for an update to this that includes photos that aren’t of old school CRT displays and a section that covers the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch which are being used far more by customers every day when on the go. It’s an easy site to run through but I’ll review a bit of the highlighted sections, below.

Apple’s Ergonomics site focuses on Repetitive Motion Injuries, Upper Body Risk Factors with solutions, Back and Legs Risk Factors with solutions, Seating, Eyes & Vision and Work Area Layout strategies.

In the Upper Body Solutions section, there are details that discuss how to angle and extend  your arms and wrists to reduce pain and repetitive injuries caused from typing for long hours over many years. Solutions include using an adjustable or split keyboard and keeping your wrists and hands aligned in a straight line when interacting with the computer. Of course, we have to highlight that Apple doesn’t sell a keyboard that’s adjustable or split but it did back in the 80s.

In the page dedicated to Back and Leg Solutions, which I feel is the most important for people who spend eight hours a day for decades in front of a computer, Apple details that using your computer while leaning forward can lead to complications as you get older. Naturally, this is the only way to use a laptop computer given the screen is elevated directly on your desk which is generally at a lower height to allow comfortable typing. Apple recommends using an external monitor with your notebook closed. Apple also says to avoid prolonged computer time and take breaks often.

I personally love Apple’s page dedicated to Eyes and Vision as it details room lighting, angles of where to sit (like next to an outside facing window) and the distance you should be from your monitor (18-24 inches away). The Work Area Layout page is by far my favorite and I’ve been incorporating these tips into my every day computer use for years.

Here are a few tidbits from Apple’s Mobile Work Layout suggestions:

  • Create a foot rest out of a backpack, phone book or trash can.
  • Improve low back support with jackets, pillows or towels.
  • When using a portable computer, consider using an external keyboard periodically to allow for greater flexibility in working postures.
  • If you are using a portable computer on an airplane, consider bulkhead or exit row seating to allow yourself a little more room. Also consider an aisle seat to make it easier to get up and stretch periodically.

It’s more interesting if this is your first time exploring Apple Ergonomics because you’ll see how many things you’ve missed that might and probably will lead to issues down the road. Sure, there’s a pill or operation for everything but avoiding those is certainly the better option. You can see how I’ve applied Apple’s ergonomic tips to my work setup at home. The monitor is 20″ from my face, my chair sits upright at the appropriate height for my waist to be even with the keyboard and nothing is out of reach that requires me to extend my body to grab it. For long blogging sessions, I’ll utilize a pillow to raise my feet and a window facing outside is right behind me to allow for natural light in addition to overhead lights.

How do you make your work setup more ergonomic?