Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Feb. 27, 2014 Volume 35, No. 21

Center offers workstation analysis for MU faculty, staff

Alternate text

Adaptive Technology Specialist Jennifer Thornhill speaks with Einar Palm, professor emeritus of plant pathology, about adaptive office equipment at the University Extension Health Fair last semester. Photo by Rob Hill.

Ergonomics are important, but so is taking a break, expert says

A stiff back, sore eyes and tired hands are common ailments of workers who sit at a computer most of the day.

For about a decade, MU’s Adaptive Computing Technology Center has offered free workstation analysis for MU staff and faculty to help alleviate the problems. 

Upon request through the office, Adaptive Technology Specialist Jennifer Thornhill visits workstations to examine the height of desks, chairs, lighting, the workers’ posture, and the placement and design of computer keyboards and screens. She makes recommendations that might help the worker. 

“People usually don’t think about their posture and workstation setup until they’re physically hurting,” Thornhill said. 

Workstation analysis was rare when Thornhill started working at MU nine years ago. But interest in the service has increased during the last two years.

The reason is mostly due to the center getting the word out about the importance of worker/workstation compatibility. A few years ago, the center began offering presentations and training on optimizing workstation setup to avoid injury and eyestrain. In addition, the center became a partner with Healthy for Life, a University of Missouri System program that promotes healthy workplace habits.

Sometimes a client thinks a workstation adjustment means an immediate fix to, say, lower back pain, Thornhill said.

That’s seldom the case.

Thornhill usually does a follow-up a few weeks after the initial adjustment. If there isn’t improvement, Thornhill tries other methods. 

What’s the best recommendation she has for comfort at the workstation? Surprisingly, it’s not about upgrading a chair or adjusting a computer screen.

“Having a workstation checked out is really important,” she said. “But you should take a break. You should get out of your seat and move, stretch, walk around the building.”

Adaptive Computing Technology Center also offers loans of different types of keyboards, mouses and other types of office equipment. 

Workers can use the equipment for two weeks, with the option of extending the loan. They can discover what works best for them before purchasing an item on their own.

The Adaptive Computing Technology Center, part of the Division of Information Technology, is at N18 Memorial Union. For more information or to set up a workstation appraisal, email or call 884-2828.

— JeongAn Choi