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Neutrality is a Key Ergonomic Principle

“Neutrality” is a major goal of proper ergonomic design. It simply means working in a position where our muscles are not subject to unnecessary stress or strain while sitting or standing at a desk or workstation. Most ergonomics consultants place “work in neutral postures” at the top of their “ergonomic essentials” lists.

A neutral posture maintains the natural S-curve of our spine. Keeping elbows parallel to the work surface and neck aligned with the spine contribute to a neutral posture.  As the illustration shows, you’ll want to consider several dimensions to achieve proper posture for both standing and sitting.

Typical workstation tasks that require ergonomic neutrality:

  • Laboratory analysis such as looking through a microscope
  • Using lab test equipment
  • Assembling products
  • Computer input tasks
  • Product test and repair
  • Packing, shipping
  • Receiving inspection
  • Etc.

First, Know the Correct Working Height

The height at which a task must be performed is key to achieving ergonomic neutrality. A handy calculator recommends the best work surface height for sitting and standing positions based on a person’s physical height.

It’s also important to shift frequently between seated and standing positions throughout the workday to minimize fatigue and long term health problems. Many tasks may be performed from either a sitting or standing position.

When it comes to choosing an ergonomically correct workstation that will be used by different people and/or for different tasks, convenient height adjustability becomes essential. It’s really the only way to achieve a neutral posture whether sitting or standing and when a workstation is being used by personnel of different heights.

Example: Ergonomic Neutrality on the Manufacturing Floor

Height adjustability is not just for the office or lab. It’s equally important on the manufacturing floor. In the illustration below, the operator has adjusted the electric workstation to a height (yellow circle) that allows her to work with elbows and lower arm parallel to the work surface (blue circle).

Height adjustability is important on the factory floor.When another worker arrives for the next shift, he or she can raise or lower the work surface in just a few seconds.

Configurabilty is Important, Too

When a workstation is used by different people, height adjustability is virtually mandatory. Traditionally, height adjustable workstations have been available in only one flavor: a standalone rectangular workstation such as the one shown above. However, in many work environments a longer (in-line) or corner height-adjustable workstation may be preferable. For example, a workstation for testing and repairing small mechanical or electronic products. One wing of the ‘L’ is for test and repair. Computer data entry occurs on the other wing.

The Direct Drive™ Height Adjustable Workstation.

Popular mechanisms for adjusting workstation height include geared cranks, pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric motor drives. For sheer ease of use and long term reliability, electric height adjustable tables are superior to other mechanisms.

The Workplace Direct Drive™ Electric Height Adjustable Workstation is the ideal way to achieve the ergonomic neutrality requirements of multiple shift, multiple user, and/or multi-task functions.

The unique Direct Drive mechanism features a low pitch leadscrew design providing unparalleled stability—and eliminates maintenance. The height of the worksurface remains firmly locked in place even when power is lost.

All height adjustment components are fully enclosed in each leg unit—ideal for use in industrial, lab, or clean room environments.

The Direct Drive design allows extensive configuration flexibility: standalone, in-line, corner, mobile workstations. Accommodates the same range of accessories as Workplace manually height adjustable workstations.

Call 1-800-258-9700 or contact your Design Specialist today to see how easy it is to achieve ergonomic neutrality with a Workplace solution.

Updated: July 2022