Laptop, Tablet and Smartphone Ergonomics
Laptops were designed to be convenient and used for short durations but unfortunately, using a laptop has become a primary computer for many people. Several detrimental factors contribute to the increased ergonomic risk when using a laptop. These include keyboard/mouse attached to the monitor, monitor placement, keyboard/mouse placement, standard keyboard layout, and touch pad mouse. Because of the design of the laptop, awkward postures will be seen and lead to the increased ergonomic concern.
If using a laptop, try to limit use as much as possible. If use is extended, obtain an external monitor, external keyboard and mouse and turn your laptop into a “monitor only”. Or, even better, obtain a laptop docking station, and use an external monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Refer to the Laptop Ergonomic Setup PDF for additional information and tips on setup.
Additional Laptop Tips
- The lighter the better (whether carrying or using your lap)
- Consider a backpack versus single shoulder strap to evenly distribute weight when transporting
- If weight is an issue, avoid carrying. Obtain a rolling bag like a suitcase. Larger size, larger and clearer resolution
- When purchasing, obtain a laptop with a “matte” screen. Screens with a gloss (i.e. Macbook) may have an inadequate screen design which increases glare
- If you have a laptop with a glossy screen, move to a location where glare is minimal or obtain a glare filter to place over the screen.
Tablets are changing the way we work. Although like a laptop, these devices are relatively light in weight and very easy to carry, these also were designed for convenience and ideally used for short durations and were not designed to be used as a primary computer. Risks such as awkward neck posture to look downward and gripping the tablet with a “key pinch” is common. This awkward grip affects the thumb and finger and requires forceful exertion. These factors increase the ergonomic risk when combined with long durations.
When using a tablet, keep the below in mind to minimize the likelihood of pain and injury.
- Avoid long durations
- Try alternative grips which do not require pinch grip with thumb and finger
- Use a tablet holder which minimizes or eliminates the pinch with the thumb and finger
- Use an articulating arm tablet holder which can be attached to a table or desk
Whether for an actual phone call, email, text message, smartphones allow us to stay connected 24/7. Review the laptop and tablet tips above when using your smartphone. Keep the below suggestions in mind as well.
When using a cell phone:
- Avoid long durations of email, text, browsing, etc. Awkward postures are difficult to avoid and will increase risk for fatigue, pain & discomfort
- Use speech to text programs to avoid repetitive typing
- Use a Bluetooth headset when talking on the phone for extended durations