Ergonomics as Practiced at UCLA

Ergonomics as Practiced at UCLA

Ergonomic Design Can Contribute to Productivity

The UCLA Ergonomics Program is a unique and creative program which offers “ergo-friendly” solutions to a large number of work-related issues. The goal of the program is to help make the work that people do a better fit so that workers are more comfortable, safer, and ultimately working in a more efficient way.

There are four steps recommended by the UCLA Ergonomics Program when a new employee first begins to work at his computer table. Step one is to select an appropriate chair. Work tasks, body size and shape should all be considered when choosing a chair. Be sure that you spine is most comfortable when it is in a “neutral posture” while sitting in the chair.

The second step is selecting an ergonomic keyboard. Articulating keyboard trays can be a good solution, providing optimal positioning of input devices. Make sure the tray does not force you to be too far away from your other work materials, like your telephone.

Making sure that your screen, documents and telephone are well positioned is the third step to an ergonomically healthy workstation. Always be sure that your neck is always in a neutral and relaxed position. Here are suggestions as to how to place your monitor so it works best for you.

•    Position your monitor directly in front of you and above your keyboard.
•    Center the top of the monitor approximately 2-3” above your eye level when seated. (If you wear bifocals, take care to lower the monitor to a comfortable reading level.)
•    Be sure to sit at least an arm’s length away from the screen and then adjust the distance for your vision.
•    Take care to reduce glare by carefully positioning the screen.
•    Place the screen at right angles to windows
•    Remember to adjust the curtains or blinds as needed
•    Place the vertical screen angle and screen controls in such a way so that the glare from overhead lights is minimized
•    Place your telephone within easy reach. Telephone stands or arms can help.
•    Use a headset or speaker phone to eliminate cradling the handset.

Step four: Make sure to take breaks throughout the day. Even with a close to perfect work environment it is still crucial to move around during the day. Lengthy postures that keep the body still for long periods of time are harmful, inhibiting blood circulation, taking a toll on the body. Here are some suggestions on how to keep the body moving during the long work day:

•    Every twenty minutes or so be sure to take a 1-2 minute stretch break. After an hour of work, take another break, changing your task for at least 5-10 minutes. It is helpful to move away from your computer desk during lunch.
•    You can get relief from eye fatigue by resting and refocusing your eyes from time to time. Look away from the monitor and focus on something else further away.
•    Give your eyes a break. Cover them with your palms for about 10-15 seconds every so often.
•    Always be aware of your posture while working, and keep it correct. And try to keep moving.

Classroom Chairs and Learning Ability

Ergonomic classroom chairs can enhance learning
Ergonomic classroom chairs enhance learning

Numerous studies have revealed that school furniture has a tremendous impact on children’s learning abilities. School chairs, for example, can help a child focus by providing comfortable seating. However, if the chair or school desk is poorly designed or constructed, they can inhibit a child’s productivity by distracting them with pain or discomfort.

Classrooms can contribute greatly to a child’s learning in other ways as well. Bright colors and clean designs can help a child focus his or her energy, as can engaging, colorful imagery and diagrams.

Classroom Ergonomics

The striking and innovative design of this Junior High School has outward-looking classrooms

Today, since many classrooms rely on computers as an educational tool, it is important to think about how to set up the classroom with this in mind.  In recent times, ergonomic computer equipment (computer chairs, computer tables, keyboards, mice, etc.), has developed into a huge industry.  As well as ensuring the classroom is fitted out with the best equipment, ergonomists look at how the design of equipment and environments can limit exertion and fatigue.  In other words, classroom ergonomics seeks to make the student as comfortable as possible while learning.

It is important for schools to consider the topic of ergonomics when purchasing school furniture.  Doing so can be beneficial for the students in the long-term since they are likely to be engaging in technology for the rest of their lives.  If children are fitted with the correct, ergonomically-enhanced equipment from a young age, then they are more likely to fare better later on in life too.

Thus, when looking at school computer equipment, parents and teachers should focus on computer monitors, mice and keyboards.  They should seek those that limit wear-and-tear on wrists and encourage children to sit upright, eye level on the monitor.  Curved and split keyboards are good; ergonomic roller balls, curved mice and wireless mice are also good.  Vis-à-vis the monitors, the flat paneled ones reduce eye strain and use less space.  They should then be positioned with a tilt, ensuring the top part of the screen is at eye level.

These are just a few examples of how to make a classroom fitted with computers as ergonomic and user-friendly as possible.

Can a Classroom Paint Job Impact Your School’s Test Scores?

Colorful Classroom

What do celebrities, politicians and lawyers have in common?

They all spend a great deal of time and money considering what they wear and how they present themselves.

Hotels, restaurants, banks and other businesses also put considerable thought into their color choices and décor. Research has shown that colors actually impact performance, which is why image consulting has become much more than a cottage industry in both Hollywood and Washington DC. Color is important – and it especially essential in our classrooms, just like classroom furniture.

Similar to other stimulants such as scent or sound, colors communicate with the brain directly.  The mind and body react to them on an instinctive, subconscious level. Therefore, color choices can transform the school and influence learning in numerous ways. The majority of classrooms and cafeterias in America have drab white walls and colorless tile floors. Why do we insist on preserving such an outdated model? Imagine more colorful cafeterias and cafeteria tables? It would be awesome.

Numerous studies have researched the impact of different colors on our brains. The results can contribute greatly to a wide range of learning environments including classrooms, laboratories and other facilities.

Defining Space & Changing Behavior with Color

School Color Plans                     Increase School Pride

Color choices in the classroom can have a large impact on student behavior and interaction, according to recent studies. Schools that have implemented color plans have found an increase in school pride as well as a decrease in both absenteeism and vandalism when compared to classes with only white walls.

As Dr. Willard R. Dagget, Jeffrey E. Cobble and Steven J. Gertel found, color can decrease problems with disruptive behavior and aggression by soothing students with calming blues and similar hues. Color choices also help to create order and procedure in classrooms. They can define spaces and illustrate where students should walk, which doors they should enter, and which sections of the room are designated for various activities.

Similarly, school furniture can have a dramatic impact on student behavior. Comfortable desks and chairs will help students stay focused and relaxed during their lessons without distracting them with cramps or aches.

Specific Classroom Color Recommendations

Classroom Colors Can Influence             Students’ Mood

Research has shown that colors, like classroom furniture, can have a dramatic impact on student behavior and productivity at school. As children develop, the ideal colors for their surroundings shift. Here is a quick look at some recommended color choices for school buildings:

•    Preschool and elementary school children are comforted and stimulated by warm, bright colors such as fuchsia, lime green, bright orange and red
•    Middle-school students benefit most from medium-cool shades of blue, green and green-blues
•    High school teens are stimulated by darker shades of burgundy, gray, dark green, deep turquoise and violet
•    Hallways are the perfect place to experiment with more color ranges and to give the school more personality
•    Gymnasiums are best enhanced with active colors like red, orange-red, warm yellow, lime, medium green and orange
•    Cafeterias should utilize “nutritious” colors such as orange, red, dark brown and green
•    Auditoriums are best suited by dignified, regal colors like purple, navy, violet and burgundy
•    Libraries best utilize pale or light green to create an atmosphere of quiet and concentration

Research has shown that the color doesn’t have to be pervasive – even the painting of one wall in the classroom, or adding strategic accents, can have a similar influence on a child’s mood and productivity. This information can help in the interior decorating processes for new schools, while offering an easy, cost effective face-lift to existing school environments, too. With so much evidence linking color to performance, school administrators should carefully consider adding color to their classroom design plans.

Children Deserve the Best in School

School Furniture Attuned to the Needs of Children

All day long, while our children are sitting at their school desks in their school chairs, they are trying hard to concentrate on what the message their teachers are conveying to them. Imagine sitting there for hours on end while the teacher stands at her podium, endlessly talking. All of us who have attended school as children should be able to recall this feeling. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if school furniture was more attuned to the needs of children trying to learn, understand and remember the teacher’s words? Giving our children the best in school, whether it is well-designed computer tables, school lockers, or classroom chairs should be a priority of our society.

The Importance of Comfortable Work Environments

Bad Posture in School Can                Interfere with Learning

For children to succeed at school, it is important that they are educated in a comfortable work environment.  This means that the classroom chairs are of top quality (perhaps even ergonomically-friendly).  The classroom tables should be at the correct level for their height, and an emphasis put on the provision of quality school furniture.

According to Prakash Nair, President of Fielding/Nair International LLC and an award-winning architect, and his partner architect Randall Fielding, the company’s Principal, there are eight truths that should be upheld vis-à-vis student learning conditions.  Nair and Fielding believe:

a) Comfort matters – the more comfortable the student, the better they will work. Research on environmental design has shown the “positive effect comfort can have on learning, human productivity and creativity.” This leads to

b) There should be absolutely no discomfort for the student at school.

c) There is a link between breathing and learning and comfortable classroom chairs. The better the breathing, the better the learning.

d) Louder areas are NOT conducive to good learning.

e) School furniture should be designed small with children in mind. School furniture and their classrooms should be inviting for children, rather than spacious and overwhelming.

f) Even a café can be conducive to learning. Cafés are generally small and intimate and therefore can be a place of student creativity.

g) Make the outdoor spaces in the school comfortable. Outdoor spaces can expand the learning environment that started inside the classrooms. Finally,

h) Emotions play a role in comfort in classrooms.  As Nair concluded, “It is difficult to overemphasize the need to create environments where students can feel both secure and significant.”

If Nair and Fielding’s findings are followed by school design teams, students will end up with quality school furniture, comfortable computer tables and classroom tables and ergonomically-approved classroom chairs.  This will provide them with potentially the most comfortable work environments and the most successful learning experiences.