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No Feet, No Worries

Feet in or out

Hugo Bos – Ergonomics Manager at BakkerElkhuizen

A question that is often asked within the scope of ergonomics is: ‘Should I have the Feet on my keyboard in or out?’ In answering this question, it is important to first point out that this is a relatively minor point in the ergonomic picture as a whole. In fact, it is not a point that is considered very important for creating a good ergonomic workstation. Much more important is the way one sits, sufficient variation in one’s work, sufficient movement, etc. But let us answer the question anyway: ‘Feet in or out?’

Feet under keyboards have been mandatory since the beginning of the eighties. The ISO norm (ISO 9241-410) stipulates that it must be possible to adjust the rear height of the keyboard. The reason at that time was probably that people were used to typing at height with machines such as typewriters. Consequently, most keyboards have been made with Feet since then.

The ISO norm mentioned above stipulates that:
• the rear of the keyboard must be adjustable, and the angle must be between 0 and 15°, but the recommended angle is between 5 and 12°;
• the height of the keyboard at the middlemost row may not be more than 3 cm.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of folding Feet?
First of all, it is important to distinguish between people who can type ‘blind’ and people who cannot (who use two fingers).
The advantage of extended Feet for non-‘blind’ typers is that they can see the keys more easily. There are no disadvantages of extended Feet for them.

But things are different for people who can type blind, as they do not look at the keyboard while typing. The Feet do not therefore need to be extended. In fact, extending the Feet can put one’s wrists at risk if they are angled back too far (see photo right). For this reason, blind typers can best keep the Feet retracted and use a relatively thin keyboard. Various studies even have demonstrated a beneficial effect when angling the keyboard away from the user (with a negative incline).

ƒ® Non-blind typers: can have the Feet extended, but they should ensure that the angle is not larger than 15°.
Ĩ Blind typers: can best keep the Feet retracted.

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