The influence of desk and display design on posture and muscle activity variability whilst performing information technology tasks

Leon Straker, Robin J. Burgess-Limerick, Clare M. Pollock, Barbara A. Maslen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Desk design and computer display height can affect posture and muscle activation during computer use. Amplitudes of postural variables and muscle activity during computer use do not explain the results from epidemiological studies of musculoskeletal discomfort and disorders related to computer use. The purpose of this study was to assess variability of posture and muscle activity during work with two computer display heights and book/paper, in conjunction with a curved desk designed to provide forearm support and a traditional, straight desk.

18 male and 18 female participants performed 10-min tasks involving keying, mousing, reading and writing in six desk/display conditions. 3D posture and surface emg were assessed for the final 2 min of each task.

The curved desk resulted in greater postural and muscle activity variation, suggesting an advantage of this supportive surface over the straight desk. There was little difference in variability associated with the two display heights. However, greater variability of posture and muscle activity was evident with the book/paper condition. Non-touch typists had greater neck flexion variation.

The design of information technology tasks and workstations can influence the short term variation in posture and muscle activity. Variation is influenced independently of mean postures and muscle amplitudes and therefore needs to be considered to adequately assess the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)852-859
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009

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