The Ergonomics Of Elon Musk’s Workstation

In this series we look at the ergonomic set-up of ANY workstation. But the thing that we LOVE about this is that it’s entirely based on pictures. Here at ergonomicsHelp we strive to provide our readers value in every post we do. So, what we are going to today is identify the ergonomic risk in a very notable person’s workstation and then offer a practical approach that would improve their ergonomics. We shine a light on aspects of workstation design that might not normally get any attention. Put another way, we want to highlight the negative affects of bad design to motivate our readers to change their workstations for the better!

Let’s jump into today’s post about Elon Musk’s workstation and highlight any ergonomic risks that are predisposing Mr. Musk to injury.

So, Let’s Talk About The Cause of All This Risk. 

There are three main ergonomic risks: Force, Posture and Repetition. There is also firm evidence that the presence of ergonomic risk factors result in discomfort/pain/injury overtime. For today, since I am only using pictures of Mr. Musk’s set-up, all I can comment on is the ergonomic risk related to awkward postures.

The ergonomic risk in Mr. Musk’s workstation is all related to one thing: The height of his workstation set-up.

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The Workstation – The Observed Ergonomic Risk

  • The Workstation Is Too High For Computer Work: As you can see from the picture above, the workstation is clearly very high; it is higher than Mr. Musk’s resting elbow height. Based on the above picture, I would estimate that it could be up to 10 cm/ 4 inches higher than it needs to be, and ideally Mr. Musk’s resting elbow position should be slightly above the working surface (this includes his keyboard and mouse height). Workstations that are too high for a person can result in discomfort in the upper back/shoulders and can cause a person to lean forward to complete computer work. This is a major ergonomic risk! Leaned forward postures tend to exacerbate the ergonomic risk in the situation and can lead to an increased amount of strain on the lower back. This can contribute to discomfort symptoms or lead to lower back discomfort overtime.
  • Tablet Placement Is Too Low For Precision Work: See the picture below. The tablet, which is placed on top of the desk with a stand, is at a position that is far too low for comfortable working. As a result, Mr. Musk is observed to lean forward to use it. Since his tablet use can be considered to be for precision work (you can see him holding a stylus), it is positioned much TOO LOW for the amount of detail that this task would require, causing him to lean forward to get a better viewing angle. Leaning forward (especially if its for prolonged periods of time) is a big risk factor for lower back discomfort as it increases the amount of compression in the low back spine.

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Improving Elon Musk’s Workstation

To reduce ergonomic risk it will be key to focus on improving the hand working height when working with the computer and the viewing height when working with the tablet. It may be best to think about Mr. Musk’s set up as two separate workstations in one.

  • Computer Workstation: There are two options to improve the ergonomics in Mr. Musk’s computer workstation.
    • Option 1: A corner mounted keyboard tray. This would allow the keyboard and mouse to be repositioned at an optimal level (more on this below) while freeing up space on his desk to take notes, etc. Functionally, the corner mount in the keyboard tray is key as it has a longer arm that is mounted to the desk underneath and is specifically designed for corner workstations.
    • Option 2: A fully height adjustable desk to allow Mr. Musk to position his work optimally, no matter what he is working on. This would functionally be the same as the keyboard tray improvement suggestion. It is much more expensive than the previous suggestion, but it would give Mr. Musk the option to stand as he wishes throughout his work day. There are many options when choosing the type of desk height automation, but the key thing is that it must be able to adjust quickly and be effective and reliable.
      • For reference, to be ergonomically optimal, the following 4 criteria should be met in a Computer Workstation:
        1. Eyes slightly higher than the monitor;
        2. Elbows (at neutral) slightly higher than the keyboard/mouse or work surface;
        3. Back comfortably positioned on the back support; and
        4. Feet in firm contact with the ground.
  • Tablet Workstation
    • Many times tablet focussed activities require precision work, which seems to be the case here for Mr. Musk. Precision work requires to be located at a higher position/viewing level (or closer to the Mr. Musk’s eyes) in order to reduce the observed leaned forward postures and keep the back in a neutral position. The tablet will require specific equipment to assist with this. There are many options out there and height and angle adjustability is a must (I like the stands with articulating arms). The good news is that this is much more affordable than the above two options, but as with any ergonomic suggestion, it is still important to ensure that Mr. Musk is sitting in a comfortable position (not leaned forward) when working with the tablet.

There you have it! This is what we would do to improve the ergonomics of Mr. Musk’s workstation and we hope that you got some value from it. Sound familiar to you and not too sure what your next steps are? Get in touch with us on our homepage -send us a note!

To see our past posts on ergonomic workstation set-ups and suggestions be sure check these out!

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Through the administration of countless assessments in both private and public sectors, Darcie has gained a wealth of knowledge and built a successful practice in the field of ergonomics. She has extensive expertise in conducting office ergonomics assessments in large scale workplaces for all different types of scenarios, from simple adjustments to incredibly complex cases. Darcie also has vast experience in delivering training presentations on the various aspects of ergonomics “best practices” in the workplace. Darcie is a Certified Professional Ergonomist through the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics, as recognized by the International Ergonomics Association. She also has a Masters of Science, specializing in ergonomics. A little known fact about Darcie is that she once scored from half, off a free kick, in a university varsity soccer (football) match!

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