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Ergonomic Products and Services

Other Office Tasks

Products listed are for information purposes only. Ergo Vancouver does not endorse or sell these products.

Many times the barrier to securing employment is not related to the operation of a computer but to the ability to handle many of the other associated office tasks, such as filing, stapling, or manipulating paper.

Problems operating larger office equipment, such as a photocopier or fax machine, generally relate to the specific machine and its layout and method of operation. It is difficult to make general recommendations about these machines. However, most other activities do have potential accommodations.

Paper Management:
  1. Cutting Paper
  2. Filing Documents
  3. Folding Paper
  4. Opening Envelopes
  5. Punching Holes in Paper
  6. Stapling and Removing Staples
  7. Telephone

Cutting Paper

There are two major problems with cutting paper: stabilizing the paper and manipulating the cutting tool. Where guillotine cutters are used the stabilization of the paper is not so important, although the paper still has to be held on the cutter. In regards to scissors there are alternatives which may alleviate some of the problems related to cutting. These solutions include:

  • spring-loaded or self-opening – no energy required to open
  • larger, contoured, or padded handles
  • Table-top spring scissors
  • Rolling scissors

The following are some examples of different types of scissors:

Easi-Grip Loop ScissorsEasi-Grip Loop Scissors

Easi-Grip Tabletop ScissorsEasi-Grip Tabletop Scissors

Fiskars Softouch MultipurposeFiskars Softouch  Multipurpose

Fiskars Softouch Home and Office ScissorsFiskars Softouch Home and Office Scissors

Olo Rolling ScissorsOlo Rolling Scissors

Filing Documents

Filing is especially problematic for people with hand/arm or mobility limitations. Problems can include:


  • accessing filing cabinet draws that are too high
  • retrieving or inserting paper into a file that is jammed full with paper

Accommodations for filing cabinets that are too high are expensive and may not be practical. These could include:

  • replace with shorter cabinets
  • replace with electrically adjustable filing cabinets

Retrieving or inserting documents in a file can be accommodated with the use of a sturdy wooden ruler. Use the ruler to pry open the file to allow insertion or retrieval of the document.

Sturdy Wooden Ruler

Folding Paper

Paper folding solutions come in the form of electric paper folders. These are rated by the number of sheets that can be folded at the same time. The bigger, more expensive models are designed for companies in the printing business. However, smaller desktop models exist that allow one to fold up to three pages at a time.

One major drawback of the smaller units is extracting items that get jammed in the machine. This requires hand dexterity and the ability to lift the unit and turn it upside down.

Automatic Letter FolderAutomatic Letter Folder

Opening Envelopes

The most frequently used letter opening accommodations are the knife-like letter openers, such as this Stainless Steel Letter Opener.

Stainless Steel Letter Opener

However, for those who have difficulty manipulating the letter opener, while at the same time holding a letter, there are one-handed letter openers. These will open the envelope by trimming a small strip off the edge.

Electric Letter OpenerElectric Letter Opener

Punching Paper

Hole punching requires physical effort to push down on the punch lever. The greater the number of papers being punched, the more force is required.

Electric paper punches require far less effort. The papers are inserted in the punch, a button is pressed, and the punch does the rest of the work.Care must be taken that you do not try to punch more papers than the punch's capacity.

Electric Paper Punch
Electric Paper Punch

Stapling and Removing Staples

Stapling can best be accomplished using electric staplers. The operator inserts the documents into the stapler, which staples automatically. No hand force is required to activate the stapling.

Electric Stapler Electric Stapler

Staple removing presents more complex challenges. While most people are familiar with the clamp-style staple removers other tools exist such as the heavy-duty staple remover and other push-style staple removers. In all cases, the operator must position the remover under the staple. It is the extraction of the staple that varies depending on the product used.

Heavy Duty Staple Remover Heavy Duty Staple Remover

Push Style Staple RemoverPush Style Staple Remover


Holding a telephone receiver can contribute to neck pain, headaches, arm, wrist or hand pain. This is especially true if your occupation requires extensive use of a telephone. The best solutions accommodate this problem by eliminating the need to hand-hold the telephone receiver.


Provide hands-free operation of a telephone, completely eliminating the need to hold the telephone receiver. Before purchasing a headset you should:

  • Determine the the headset's compatibility with your telephone system.
  • Decide which options/styles you want in a headset.

Headset options/styles include:

  • Over head, over ear. The over head option has a thin metal headband; the over ear model fits behind the ear.
  • In ear, over ear. The in ear speaker slides into the ear canal; the over ear speaker is padded with foam and rests on the ear.
  • Monaural, binaural. Monaural has one speaker, leaving one ear free; binaural has two speakers.
  • Wireless. Wireless headsets are convenient in that they do not have cables that get in your way. Wireless headsets require batteries and a receiver (which plugs into the telephone).
  • Handset lifter. A handset lifter works with a wireless arrangement and allows for remote answering of the telephone when you are away from your desk.
  • Amplifiers. Some headsets require amplifiers.

Binaural Telephone Headset

Binaural Telephone Headset

Reaching the Telephone

The location of the telephone on your workspace can contribute to problems using the telephone. The telephone should always be placed within easy range of your reach envelope. If the telephone is too far away it can lead to neck and shoulder problems if you frequently have to stretch out your arm to pick up the receiver.

Telephone Arm

There are a number of telephone “arms” with varying degrees of adjustability. These allow the telephone to be rotated or extended in and out of your immediate work area.

Ergo Flex Phone ArmErgo Flex Phone Arm

Executive Phone Arm

Executive Phone Arm