Ergonomics Guidelines


LingoCall's ergonomics guidelines for interpreter workplaces.

Translators and interpreters spent many hours sitting. It is important to take care of certain basic aspects to ensure our occupational health. Stress and workload are not the only factors that generate injuries, it is also generated by the lack of ergonomics at work. The important thing is that we all understand that we can do many things to avoid them.

It is not necessary to invest a lot of money to get an ergonomic work material, we can use several homemade tools to modify our environment without having to empty our pockets.

Do not forget that when we translate we concentrate so much that we forget our body position. We then have to make a conscious effort to rescue ourselves from that position that can injure our body. We must take into account that regardless of the position in which we choose to work any part of the body will always be in an inappropriate position, so we have to move! Nor should we forget those parts of the body that, although we are not using them, are there and count to ensure our occupational health.

Ergonomics tips for interpreters and translators:

- Locate and analyze your workplace, that is, the place where you sit to translate or interpret.

- Have good lighting in your workplace and a controlled working environment free of noise and interruptions.

- Have all your work tools within reach, understand dictionaries, pens, glass with water, telephone, etc. to avoid unnecessary stretching.

Adapt your standard workstation with ergonomic elements or homemade artifacts that allow you to observe the following positions:

Your feet should not hang, we suggest adding a footrest or, failing that, telephone directories, drawers, small tables or benches, to prevent the weight of hanging feet from generating circulation problems.

NOTE: The recommendable dimensions of the footrest are 33 cm (13”) deep, at least 45 cm (18”) wide and inclined between 10 and 25 degrees. The support surface must be anti-slip, as well as the base of it. If a suitable footrest is not available, a piece of wood, to which a type of rubber or any non-slip material will adhere, can solve the problem.

That the knees are at a 90 degree angle so that the whole body is rested. Remember that you are working with your brain, your eyes and your hands, the rest of your body should not make any additional effort.

Your back should be straight. Imagine that you have a rope above your head and pull it frequently to straighten yourself out. Surely little by little you will be twisting, the important thing is to remember the rope and straighten as often as possible.

Let the elbows rest at 90 degrees with relaxed shoulders. If this position is not observed, with the hours the shoulders and neck will begin to manifest pain.

Adjust the table so that it is at the height where your elbow bends. The idea is to keep the shoulders from rising and hurting after several hours of work.

Locate the screen between 45 and 70 cm (18” to 28”) from the eyes to avoid eye strain. Keep that distance, it is very harmful to be stuck to the screen.

Lower the brightness to the screen because we do not really need it, the eye easily gets used to working with less brightness.

NOTE: The permanence in front of the monitor for a prolonged period of time causes visual discomfort, burning, itching, headaches, etc. A good habit is to divert the view of the monitor every half hour and blink to wet it.

Set the screen to a position and height, so that the eyes and neck do not move too much up, down, or sideways.

Take care not to make unnecessary and unconscious efforts such as stretching the neck towards the screen because we believe that this way we can see more clearly and understand the text better.

Remember to blink frequently because the screen has a hypnotizing effect. If we do not blink our eyes do not irrigate and tend to burn and hurt. (Visual fatigue and dry eye, may be long-term consequences).

Set up a routine pause to stretch your legs, arms, blink, take your eyes off the screen, get up and move your entire body.

Stretch the spine that is not designed for a sedentary life. The vertebrae are not irrigated unless we are in motion!

Your computer´s sound system must be adequate so that you can do your job well and that there is no noise interference of any kind. In this respect and in the case of LingoCall, it is necessary for the interpreter to have a good quality and stable internet connection, to avoid overhearing when listening. Also, work with a headset (integrated hearing aid and microphone) of good quality and professional level.

By avoiding pain and injury we improve our productivity. If we present pains when translating, we will probably lose concentration, we will translate less and with less quality. If we take care of these factors, surely we can perform the 8 hours of effective work. We must stop once and for all that bad habit of working too many hours, and at the wrong time! Unless it is a special occasion. If we give ourselves time to relax, rest, entertain ourselves, we will surely start a new day with a fresher head and we will be more productive.

We recommend working no more than 6 hours per day in the interpretation or translation activity and have at least one day of rest per week, the ideal would be to have 2 days.

In addition to all this, it would be important to complement our daily routine with a little exercise. We ourselves are our best instrument to monitor our occupational health, let's monitor our positions and correct them. These requirements do not respond to a whim or a desire of diva / divo, but they obey to a very specific reason: to take care of our future, to take care of ourselves now to be able to work more years. The idea is to avoid any type of corporal damage to prolong our professional useful life and the balance and well-being in our daily life.