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Ergonomic Monitor Placement: Reducing Strain for Radiologists?

women side profile viewing scans on screens

 

Monitor placement can play a significant role in a radiologist's comfort and efficiency. Today, we'll explore how optimizing monitor placement can alleviate stress and improve outcomes. 

 

Let's begin. 

 

RedRick Technologies is one of the leading innovators in developing ergonomic workspaces specialized for healthcare professionals. We craft carefully designed workstations, monitor mounting solutions, accessories, and peripherals. It's our job to find solutions to the common issues facing health professionals today, including radiologists who spend countless hours at their workstations, facing continued and repetitive strains. When health professionals begin to struggle with their health, it has a direct impact on those who depend on them. This is why we search for innovative solutions.  

 

Curious about our products? We do not need a catalog – all our workstations are developed to fit your specific qualifications.  

According to the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, radiologists face threatening physical effects due to their line of work, including heart disease, hypertension, headaches, back pain, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and overall fatigue. 

 

One of the best ways to prevent physical strains is to optimize radiology workstations with ergonomics at the top of mind. Today, we’ll focus on the importance of monitor placement and the importance of an ergonomic workstation.  

 

Radiologists require monitors as a part of their workstation setup. They can spend what feels like countless hours looking at screens, leading to various forms of physical strain from eye strain to neck strain. An optimized workstation should allow for not only multiple monitors to be present but also for proper height setup with the ideal focal distance between the mouse and keyboard. 

 

The Importance of Proper Monitor Placement in an Ergonomic Workstation 

When it comes to reducing risks for radiologists, proper monitor placement is essential for reducing the potential risk of strain. Radiologists spend extended periods analyzing medical images, which puts their eyes and bodies at risk for significant strain.

  

Radiologists spend many hours staring at computer monitors, which has a particularly detrimental impact on the eyes. Improper monitor placement and practices can cause ocular hazards, such as computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain, refers to a collection of eye and vision-related issues caused by prolonged exposure to computer screens, tablets, and cell phone use.   

 

The most notable symptoms of CVS or digital eyestrain include: 

  • Eyestrain 

  • Headaches 

  • Blurred vision 

  • Dry eyes 

  • Neck and shoulder pain 

These symptoms may be caused by: 

  • Poor lighting 

  • Glare on a digital screen 

  • Improper viewing distances 

  • Poor seating posture 

  • Uncorrected vision problems 

  • A combination of these factors 

 

The severity of the symptoms depends on the individual’s visual abilities and the amount of time spent looking at a screen. Radiologists who already suffer from vision problems such as farsightedness and astigmatism, as well as eye-focusing or eye-coordination abilities or eye-aging issues such as presbyopia, can experience worse CVS symptoms. 

 

Potential Risks of Working in a Non-optimized, Ergonomic Workstation 

Several risks come with working in a workstation that isn’t optimized for the long hours of reviewing medical imaging that radiologists face every day. Some of the potential risks include:  

 

Musculoskeletal Strain 

Prolonged periods of sitting in an awkward position or completing repetitive movements without the right support cause musculoskeletal strain. According to Biomed Central, computer users such as radiologists are particularly susceptible to developing musculoskeletal strain because they work long hours analyzing medical images on computers.  

 

Increased Risk of Injury 

If radiologists don't have the proper ergonomic support, they're at a far higher risk of developing repetitive strain injuries (also known as RSIs) or even acute injuries caused by poor posture and inadequate workstation support.  

 

RSIs refer to a gradual buildup of damage incurred by the muscles, tendons, and nerves caused by repetitive motion. Repetitive strain injuries can include carpal tunnel, bursitis, and rotator cuff tendonitis.  

These conditions might not seem like a "big deal" to some, but repeating these injuries can not only be painful, but it can impact overall well-being and lower efficiency. Many of these injuries can be caused to the neck due to poor monitor support.  

 

Burnout and Fatigue 

Dealing with chronic discomfort and pain from an unoptimized workstation can contribute to overall burnout and fatigue in radiologists. This can lead to decreased job satisfaction, decreased quality of patient care, and increased turnover rates within radiology departments. 

Optimizing your workstation monitors and mitigating injury 

 

Eye-level Positioning 

Optimal monitor placement must be positioned at eye level or slightly below to promote a more natural neck position. This eliminates the possibility of excessive strain on the neck muscles from having to look up or down for prolonged periods. There are other factors to consider, such as if you wear bifocals, you may need to position the monitor below eye level.  

If you extend your neck backward when viewing the screen, then you know the monitor likely isn't low enough.  

 

You also want to make sure your monitor(s) are at least an arm's length away or calculate the ideal distance using a monitor size/distance equation

 

Before you move forward with getting a customized, ergonomic workstation, consider consulting an eye care professional to help identify what focal distance could be most appropriate for you. It could be the difference between you and your health.  

 

If you notice neck pain caused by consistently twisting your neck, consider keeping your monitor directly in front of you and in line with your keyboard. If you're working with multiple monitors, prioritize your primary monitor by aligning it directly with you. You can position secondary monitors next to the main screen on either side to reduce neck twisting. 

 

An ergonomic monitor setup also needs to be adjustable in terms of angle and tilt to prioritize different viewing preferences. 

 

wide desk with multiple computer screens

 

Dual Monitor Setup 

Radiologists often need more than one monitor to view multiple images simultaneously, and luckily, having multiple monitors can be beneficial.  

As mentioned previously, placing monitors side by side allows not only for easier comparison, but also reduces the need for excessive head, neck, or eye movement, reducing the risk of strain.  

 

For radiologists, who need to be able to detect abnormalities both big and small, minimizing strain (especially on the eyes) is essential.  

 

Reducing Glare and Reflections 

An ergonomic monitor setup must be positioned away from windows or other sources of direct light to minimize the potential for glare and reflections on the screen. Glare can cause serious eye strain over time and can make it even more difficult to notice important details in medical images.  

 

According to a study conducted by Talia Vertinsky, MD, 65.4% of 416 radiologists and radiology residents had a prevalence of CVS. Considering modern-day radiologists need to spend long hours inspecting important medical imaging, reducing eye strain is essential. 

 

Ergonomic Furniture 

In tandem with monitor placement, it's important to also implement ergonomic furniture such as adjustable desks and chairs to help support proper posture. This helps support the body during long reading sessions. For example, a sit-to-stand desk provides the ability to move into better, more comfortable positions during long hours and helps eliminate the potential risk of physical strain and discomfort, improving overall efficiency.  

 

Other Light Sources and Considerations 

Optimal lighting in open reading spaces can be tailored to individual preferences using small desk lamps, effectively mitigating unnecessary eye strain. Additionally, the utilization of blue-light filtering spectacle lenses has been demonstrated in prior research to further alleviate eye fatigue. To address noise disturbances in communal reading areas, professionals recommend utilizing room dividers equipped with sound-absorbing materials whenever possible. Noise-canceling headphones can also be advantageous in managing distractions. 

 

Radiologists provide countless patients with diagnoses required to develop comprehensive and tailored treatment plans by offering their unique insight into the human body. With their help, they help patients improve their overall health, and even save lives. Their role is essential when it comes to patient care behind the scenes, so making sure they're well taken care of and healthy themselves is just as important as their work. Studies have shown that radiologists struggle with mental and physical health issues that are directly caused by the essential work they do, so they need all the support available at their disposal.  

 

In Conclusion 

By implementing an ergonomic workstation with an optimized monitor setup, radiologists can better maintain their health, wellbeing, and productivity for years to come. If you're interested as a business or individual in investing in an ergonomic workstation setup to help mitigate these risks, see RedRick Technologies for more details.  

 

 

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Importance of Evaluating Ergonomic Workstations in Radiology

Female radiologist running CT machine from control room in hospital.

 

Radiology is a field that demands high levels of concentration and attention to detail. The success of a radiologists’ and technicians’ work hinges significantly on their work environment, particularly the design of their reading rooms.  

 

Ergonomics plays a critical role in shaping these environments. By creating efficient and comfortable workspaces, ergonomics not only supports the well-being of radiologists but also enhances the accuracy of their diagnoses. 

 

However, establishing an ergonomic workspace in radiology is not a one-time task. It goes beyond the initial ergonomic equipment installation or a single ergonomics training session. Instead, it’s an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation and updates.  

 

This need for constant adjustment stems from several factors: 

  • The technology used in radiology is rapidly evolving, bringing new tools and methodologies that workspaces must adapt to.  

  • Moreover, radiology technicians form a dynamic workforce with unique needs and preferences.  

  • Adding to this, our understanding of what makes a workspace truly ergonomic is always advancing, thanks to continued research and studies. 

 

This article explains the role of regular evaluations and adjustments of ergonomic workstations in radiology reading rooms, including what a comprehensive ergonomic assessment involves and how to apply it effectively.  

 

At RedRick Technologies, we design and develop ergonomic workspaces for healthcare professionals that include workstations, monitor mounting solutions, accessories, and peripherals. We also provide ergonomic design services that help organizations implement ergonomic principles for improved space design and functionality. Get in touch and let’s find ways to improve the ergonomic functionality of your workspace.   

 

 

1. Incorporating User Feedback 

Imagine the experience of moving into a new home or rearranging a room. Initially, the placement of furniture and items might seem perfect. However, as you start using the space, you realize some changes are needed for better functionality or to address unforeseen issues.  

 

This analogy applies to workstations in radiology as well. 

 

For radiologists spending extended hours at their workstations often brings to light certain discomforts that weren’t initially apparent. Over time, they might find that certain aspects of their workstation, such as the lighting conditions or the height of their monitors, could be more comfortable and efficient. These minor discomforts can significantly impact a radiologist’s ability to work effectively and efficiently. 

 

This is where regular ergonomic assessments come into play. Organizations can develop more effective ergonomic solutions by listening to the employees who use these workspaces daily. 

 

Working with an expert like RedRick Technologies greatly improves the likelihood that the workspace is optimal from the beginning. We have worked in the radiology space for over two decades and have extensive knowledge to optimize reading rooms best. 

 

However, we still recommend that even our customers regularly evaluate ergonomic workstations for the following reasons. 

 

 

2. Adapting to Changing Technology and Tools in Radiology 

In any modern workplace, especially in a field as tech-driven as healthcare, it’s a given that what’s cutting-edge today will eventually be obsolete. 

 

In other words, what was considered an ergonomic setup with older equipment might not be suitable when new technologies are introduced. That’s another reason why it’s important to regularly update ergonomic solutions to keep pace with these technological changes. 

 

New imaging technologies and advanced software for image processing are continually emerging. These advancements may call for different monitor setups or interfaces tailored to the specific needs of these sophisticated tools.  

 

And it’s not just about the changes we see today — it’s also about preparing for the future. There might be developments in the next five to ten years that we can’t even anticipate yet but which will become standard practice in radiology. 

 

By regularly evaluating and updating ergonomic workstations, you can ensure that your radiologists’ work environment is optimized for the latest technology. This proactive approach ensures that radiologists have the best tools to provide accurate and effective patient care. 

 

 

3. Accommodating a Diverse and Evolving Profession 

The radiology profession is as diverse as it is skilled. This diversity includes a wide range of body sizes, shapes, and abilities, which means that ergonomic solutions must be flexible and adaptable. 

 

Female radiologist looking at scans from control room in hospital.

 

What works for one employee or group of employees may be different from another. As new people come into the workspace and others transition out, their ergonomic needs also change. This isn’t just about individual comfort but about maintaining a high standard of care in radiology.  

 

One increasingly relevant part of this diversity is age. America’s physician population is aging, and more than 20% of practising radiologists are over the age of 65.  

 

People’s ergonomic requirements often change as they age. Solutions that are comfortable and efficient for a younger workforce might not be as effective for older employees. Older radiologists, for instance, might benefit from specific adjustments like screen magnifiers or chairs designed with better lumbar support.  

 

The evolving nature of the profession underscores the importance of regular ergonomic assessments in radiology workstations. 

 

 

4. Keeping Up With Evolving Ergonomics Research 

Ergonomics is a dynamic field. New research is continually reshaping our understanding of what constitutes an ideal workspace.  

 

This is another key reason why regular evaluations and updates of ergonomic workstations, especially in the demanding field of radiology, are important. 

 

As new studies emerge, they often bring better practices and approaches to light. For instance, recent research might offer new insights into the optimal room temperature, lighting, or noise levels that best support concentration and comfort.  

 

Evaluating workstations in line with the latest ergonomic research can significantly improve the well-being and efficiency of radiologists. 

 

 

5. Making Time for Maintenance 

An important yet often overlooked part of ergonomics is the regular inspection, maintenance, and repair of ergonomic equipment. 

Over time, every piece of equipment, whether it’s chairs, monitor holders, or lighting systems, undergoes wear and tear. This can occur so gradually that radiologists may not notice until the equipment starts to cause problems. 

 

Take, for instance, the monitor mounts used by radiologists. With time, these mounts can become difficult to adjust due to compromised cable management resulting from monitor changes or upgrades, making it less likely for radiologists to set them at the optimal ergonomic height. The same can happen with chairs  — they might lose stability in a particular position, leading to reduced support and poor posture alignment.  

 

This is why it’s essential to evaluate the condition of ergonomic equipment regularly. This proactive approach helps preserve the equipment’s longevity and prevent issues such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or even mistakes in radiological readings. 

 

Investing in ergonomic equipment is just the first step. To truly benefit from this investment, you must ensure that the equipment continues serving its intended ergonomic purpose. That requires evaluation. 

 

 

Conducting Ergonomic Assessments in Radiology Workspaces 

Ergonomic evaluations, also known as ergonomic risk assessments, help you identify risk factors in work environments that could cause musculoskeletal disorders or injuries. The goal is to pinpoint these risks, make measurable improvements to the workplace to improve safety and comfort and create the most productive workspace for radiologists. 

 

 

Who Should Be Involved in Ergonomic Evaluations? 

 

  • Ergonomics Specialist or Consultant: These are professionals trained in ergonomics and knowledgeable about human factors, workplace design, and health and safety. They often lead the evaluations. 

  • Occupational Health and Safety Teams: In larger organizations, these internal teams might conduct or oversee the ergonomic assessments, ensuring that workplace safety standards are consistently met. 

  • Facility Managers: They ensure that the physical aspects of the workspace, like the layout and equipment, adhere to ergonomic standards. 

  • Employees: Radiologists and other employees are essential in this process. Their feedback on comfort and any issues they face is invaluable for making practical ergonomic adjustments. 

  • IT Department: Particularly relevant in radiology, where technology is integral, the IT department ensures that all equipment is optimally set up and functioning. 

 

 

How Often Should Ergonomic Assessments Occur? 

The frequency of ergonomic assessments can vary, but standard practices include: 

 

  • Initial Assessment: This is crucial when a new workstation is set up or when a new employee joins. 

  • Periodic Reviews: Conducting these assessments annually or biannually as part of regular health and safety protocols is beneficial. 

  • Following Changes: After significant changes in equipment, technology, or work processes, an assessment is necessary. 

  • Upon Request: If an employee reports discomfort, pain, or other issues related to ergonomics. 

 

What Does an Ergonomic Assessment Involve? 

 

  • Workstation Analysis: This involves evaluating desks, chairs, monitors, keyboards, and other equipment for proper ergonomic alignment. 

  • Environmental Factors: Assessing aspects like lighting, noise levels, temperature, and other environmental conditions that affect comfort and efficiency. 

  • Employee Interviews and Surveys: Gather direct employee feedback about their comfort, pain points, and specific needs or preferences. 

  • Risk Assessment: Identifying potential risks for musculoskeletal disorders and other work-related issues. 

  • Compliance Check: Ensuring the workplace meets all regulatory and industry ergonomic standards. 

 

Ergonomic workspaces are dynamic, requiring ongoing attention and adaptation. This continuous improvement process helps radiologists to work comfortably and efficiently, adapting to changes in technology, diverse workforce needs, and the latest research in ergonomics.  

 

At RedRick Technologies, we understand the complexities of creating and maintaining ergonomic work environments in radiology. Our commitment extends beyond the initial design and installation of workspaces. We advocate for a culture of ongoing ergonomic assessments, ensuring that your investment in ergonomics continues to yield benefits in terms of employee well-being, operational efficiency, and patient care quality. Get in touch and let’s find ways to improve the ergonomic functionality of your workspace.   

 

 

 

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