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Podcast October 6, 2020

Ergonomics in the Home Office: Part Two

Host Gabe Duverge speaks with Dr. Mark Benden and Martha Parker of the Texas A&M University Ergo Center about the ergonomic challenges that the millions working from home during the pandemic may be facing. In part two, Dr. Benden and Parker explain how employees turn basic knowledge of ergonomics into action at the home office.

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Podcast: in the Home Office: Part One from LINAK on Vimeo.

 

Full Transcript

Gabe Duverge: Hello and welcome back to the LINcast, a LINAK podcast with conversation exploring the latest research and innovation behind actuation solutions. We're improving people's quality of life and working environments through smooth and reliable movement. My name is Gabe Duverge. You're listening or watching part two of this work-from-home ergonomics series.

I'm lucky to have Dr. Mark Benden and Martha Parker from Texas A&M University, the Ergo Center there to continue our discussion on the importance of ergonomics in the home office given this current set of events. I want to thank everyone for joining us and spending even more time with us.

In part two, we wanted to discuss specifically how we can bring the knowledge of ergonomics from the workplace into our home offices. But before we dive into that, let's take a big picture look at the situation. I'm sure you guys are talking a lot about home offices these days, given so many of us are working from there. How many people are currently working from home due to COVID-19, and how many people do you think will continue to work from home even after the effects of the pandemic return to a normal we're more used to?

Dr. Mark Benden: Sure. Of course, before the pandemic, we had around 5% of US workers who were truly full-time home workers, working remotely from home and another 25% identified as partial. So, they had some days when they were flexibly able to work from home, work on the road, work from an office, traditional office. Today, we're running closer to 50% who are working from home, and there's another 25% in flux that are also some sort of combination. So, depending on the city state, urban, rural.

Now unfortunately, we have a pandemic in our country. We could be upwards as high as 70% today. I don't think that will last. I think we will... As you can tell, I'm in my office on campus. We're back to school and back to work. The parents are dropping off students right now on campus to start school next week. So, I think that we're going to see those numbers dial back. But even here on campus for people that we would consider able to do their job remotely, we're encouraging them to still stay remote as much as possible, and only come into the office when they really need to.

So, you will see a variety over the next few months. Of course, a lot of it will depend on how the numbers play out with the infections. I do believe that we are going to see this trend of people working from home stay fairly high. Some estimates right now are that we could end up with over 20% just full-time working from home. Again, that compares to the 5%. So that's a big jump. That's a big media landscape.

Gabe Duverge: Definitely.

Martha Parker: To put it in a little bit of a different context, I've seen projections that 80% of the employees that can, so the people that are working in the grocery store, the healthcare workers, all of those essential people who have to be at their workplace right, not counting those people. So, 80% of the people that can will work from home. Could be a day, could be full time, could be part time, could be one week on, one week off, whatever. But 80% of those that can, will.

I think that's an astounding number just from the context of... I think Dr. Benden is going to get into this. He talks about seamlessness between your office environment, and your home or your remote environment. When you're looking at such a large swath of the population going back and forth, you've really got to have that down. What is that seamless thing you talk about, Dr. Benden?

Dr. Mark Benden: Yeah. So the concept there is just to be able to take the person and move them from their traditional office they've been used to into a home or a remote location. If you were to put blinders on them, and Gabe, for people with young children like you, you might need to put something over their ears, too. If you just look at their monitor, their desk, their keyboard, their mouse, their phone, their chair, it would all be the same. It would fit like a glove. It would all be for them. It would be the same products that adjust and adapt and work for them to help them do their work. Again, it would be like an old friend. It would be very comfortable so that they would know where everything's at. They could do it with their eyes closed. Right now, when we have people working on ironing boards, at home, kitchen counters with boxes, shoe boxes, that's not what most folks are experiencing. They're not quite at that seamless level yet.

Gabe Duverge: That's very interesting. It does seem like working from home is something we're going to live with for the near future. We covered in part one, some of the specific benefits of working from home and when we're talking about the seamlessness. I would like to talk specifically about the drawbacks and the difficulties that you guys have seen and heard or things that people should be looking out for, especially from an ergonomic standpoint, or just in general from the working-from-home trend that we see.

Dr. Mark Benden: Yeah. I want to let Martha cover a few specifics on things like chairs and desks and stuff like that. But I will just tell you that it's so critical right now that we move out of the hack phase because we've been in the hack phase.

Gabe Duverge: Yeah, pretty much.

Dr. Mark Benden:I mean really, we've pretty much been in this hack phase. It was cute, and it was nice. It was the right thing to do when we all thought that we were going to be flattening the curve for two weeks. Go home for two weeks, work from home for two weeks. I have to be honest with you, I was a little bit excited. "Oh my, this is cool. This will be great." I had no idea it would turn into a nightmare. That two weeks became two months, became six months.

We can't just do those little hack things where you stack up all the magazines on your coffee table and stuff. We've got to go ahead and plan for this sticking around for a while and getting people set up properly because not only is it good for their health, but from a company bottom line standpoint, it's good for productivity. So, we need to look at both of those factors and understand what's going on. It will cause some adjustments to the way that business owners view traditional office workspace versus these remote workspaces. There'll be some alterations in policy, in how companies handle that and pay for that.

I believe we will also see, eventually, OSHA's been solid on this for years. They've always said, "Well, if you go home and do a little work at home, that's not your workplace. We don't look after that.”

Gabe Duverge: We can't, yeah.

Martha Parker: What happens at home stays at home.

Dr. Mark Benden: That's correct. Exactly. We don't want to go there. But if half the workforce is working from home, then they may have to change their view of this.

Gabe Duverge: Yeah. I bet there'll be some alterations.

Dr. Mark Benden: Very likely, we'll see some policy changes to here. Martha, why don't you go explain some of those physical items too?

Martha Parker: Yeah. I think the most important thing and the thing that gets overlooked in my experience most often is a space. Just as Dr. Bended said, we were told, "Work from home for two weeks." So, we didn't really put a lot of thought into what it was going to look like. We just needed to get back on. We needed to get back on our email. We needed to get back on servers, we needed to get back to doing a little bit of work, and then we had all the kids thrown in and significant others working from home, too. We are just trying to make it work. That's where the hackathon came in.

So, we got to take a step back now and really look at our space. I think that one of the most important things is to have a dedicated space for working. This is my working space. This is where I work. It is good physically, it's also good mentally because when you get in that space, that's what you're doing there, right?

Gabe Duverge: Yes, yes.

Martha Parker: By the way, that also works for kids. So, whether you're learning remotely, or you're doing part time, or you're taking a class online as a learner, if you have a dedicated space that is comfortable and customizable and works for you, that's where you need to learn from, that is your learning space, just like we have our working spaces. So, the most important thing in that space, I think, is a work surface. So, if it's sit-stand or height-adjustable, or just a regular desk, having a horizontal space that you can put your stuff on, you can make everything else work, if you have that space. Second is your chair. People are always asking us, "What's the best chair?" We had a lady at lunch ask us yesterday. "What's the best chair? I have this chair. Is it the best?" I was like, "Sure."

Gabe Duverge: Maybe.

Martha Parker: "Whatever. I don't know." It's about fit. It's what fits you. So, there's some critical things you want to look at. The length of your legs, your back support, armrests. The width of the chair. All those things you want to make sure fit you, then we can work on how the chair and your desk interact from a height perspective. Next is your monitor. Dr. Benden, I'm going to turn it back to you to talk about monitors in a second.

Dr. Mark Benden: Sure.

Martha Parker: Then keyboards and mice, again, fit, fit, and then function are what matters the most. We get, "What's the best keyboard? What's the best mouse?" It's really about fit. There are tons of options out there. So, don't give up until you find one that fits for you. Back to you on monitors.

Dr. Mark Benden: On the monitors. There’s a lot of questions right now with people using a lot of monitors and, in my opinion, too many. When I say too many, I mean more than one is too many. So, I prefer one.

Martha Parker: He's a simple man.

Dr. Mark Benden: I prefer one large monitor centred on the G&H split on a separate or split ergonomic keyboard with palm support. Then of course, the mouse that fits you. So, an upright mouse. It tends to be one of the more popular ones right now. It looks like you're shaking hands with somebody instead of pronating your hand down. The other thing is that the mice themselves do come in sizes, when you go to a reputable company that makes aftermarket mice. So, you'll find small, medium, large, extra-large. You can size that mouse according to your hand. That will make a huge difference in comfort throughout the day.

Then the other thing I mentioned is that seamless issue. You need the same keyboard, the same mouse, right, roughly, the same monitor at home and at work. Now, even if you've got a desktop running that keyboard and mouse at the office, and you've got a laptop that you use in your home office, they all need to be connected to the same type or style of keyboard and mouse. It's really, really critical that you're not going be using those laptop keyboards or the laptop monitors. They need to be in a docking station. That's for the CPU only. You need a real monitor, a larger monitor that you can put up, at least, two applications at once in its once full size, 8 ½ by 11 size, and have those opened simultaneously.

The distance to the monitor is really critical. So, we run into several things with monitors that cause problems for people in the office, but also in their remote offices. The height is the number one. So, height means too high, right? These monitors we've got nowadays are huge. So, if people are sitting down, particularly when we all start slouching and slumping by the end of the day, we get lower and lower in our chair. We think it's gravity sucking us down, pulling us into the earth. But the monitor is typically too high. I just don't run into situations anymore except maybe with Shaq, where the monitor is too low. They tend to be too high, set up too high. So, bring the monitor down.

For most of these larger 20-plus-inch monitors, essentially, the bottom edge needs to be almost touching or touching the desk surface. That home row on that keyboard that I talked about should be at your elbow-rest height. So when you relax, sitting up in your chair, where your elbows fall, that height is where your home row should be on that keyboard. So, if you can get that monitor at a good height, and at a distance from you, which would probably be two feet t the absolute minimum with these larger monitors. If you've got multiple monitors, you're probably looking more like three feet.

If you think about that for a second, what we're talking about now is that you get it at the proper distance, so you don't look like you're watching a tennis match, looking at your monitors. We need to have the monitors set up far enough away that they're in your field of view without having to turn your head. That's tough when you have two or three monitors because, again, you're going to need to be about three feet away.

Most of the desks that are made today are…

Gabe Duverge: They've been showing us, for those listening.

Dr. Mark Benden: They're like 24 inches deep. So, if you set a keyboard on there, your fingers are going to be 12 to 18 inches from the monitor, your eyes maybe 20 inches. You're probably a foot or more shy of how far away you really should be. So that's a big issue with positioning in the monitors themselves.

Gabe Duverge: That's fascinating. Honestly, definitely goes against what I have. So, I have to make some changes. I think what you mentioned specifically about the laptop and bringing the seamlessness is something I'm sure a lot of listeners, myself, can really identify with. The first thing I purchased when I realized I was going to be at home for a long time is one of the docking stations. I bought a USB C dock, so I could plug it into the monitor I had. It definitely did wonders. So, if you're five, six months in and still doing that, I would change your workstation. I promise you.

Martha Parker: Get out of the hackathon.

Gabe Duverge: Do that now. Do that now because it will help you, definitely.

Dr. Mark Benden: Definitely.

Gabe Duverge: As I mentioned, I work at LINAK. I have a sit-stand desk. That's definitely one of the other things I missed at home. Not being able to have that option to sit and stand was a huge adjustment. So, for those of us who are still at home, do you guys have any recommendations, specifically for ergonomics, that people... You guys talked about the equipment. Is there any physical kind of thing that people could be doing to help out the ergonomics situation, and make their comfort a little better?

Dr. Mark Benden: Yeah. I think some of the environmental considerations are really important. So, noise is critical. In the home, it can be a challenge. So, a good set of both ear, noise-cancelling headphones. So, you're using a single ear gate, which works well in a grown-up situation.

Gabe Duverge: It helps so I can hear in both settings.

Dr. Mark Benden: There's the other one. In a grown-up space, you can get away with one over the ear or in the ear. You can just use a speakerphone or whatever. When you've got other family members and pets and children in a tighter space, you really need something that goes over the ears, both ears, noise cancelling.

Again, that space, Martha talked about, is really important. We're finding people working from their cars in their driveways. Working from their RVs and motor coaches, just parked in the driveway or outback or whatever. It's that extra space. We're seeing a lot of conversions of the garage to an office. That's been something that's been interesting. In fact, there's a company that started up in Dallas. That’s all they're doing. They're just slammed.

Of course, people who have maybe more limited space or don't have a garage or really need a garage for something else, maybe it's already full of stuff, like most Americans, and not cars. They're converting things like their entryway. So, maybe you've got this really nice 10 by 10 grand entryway. People are just walling it up, put in a door some soundproofing, some connections. That helps the spot because, let's face it, only the UPS and FedEx people are coming to the door am I right?

So, it makes a little bit better use of the square footage you've got in your home. So, those are some of the things we're seeing. I think the indoor air quality in the homes is really important. We mentioned that in the last talk. But it's super important to get that fresh air. Make sure you're getting outside. So, one of the things I tell people all the time is solvitur ambulando. What that means is, it can be solved with a walk. Just get outside, take a walk, a little fresh air, a little ambulation, get the blood flowing. Man, it will really help you with your creativity and focus. Of course, it's great for your whole body health as well.

Martha Parker: I like that walk around thing. We did a study this past summer that looked at a timing mechanism for standing and sitting and moving and what that looks like. So, we looked at the 20 minutes of sitting, the eight minutes of standing, and then two minutes of walking or Latin, whatever that was ambulatory, whatever. We did the 20, 8 and 2. So, we found it was good. Your cognitive function increased a little bit. Your productivity did not decrease for the time that you were away from the computer. So, the 20-8-2 is a really good metric to remember, whether you stand up and talk on the phone, whether you stand up and keep working on the computer using your height-adjustable table, whether you stand up and you read stuff, doesn't really matter what you do, as long as you're doing something, and then take that two minutes to walk around. It used to work in the office, we would walk down the hallway and go to a meeting, we would walk down the hallway and go to the bathroom, we would walk down the hallway and get some water. Now, we walk across the hall to the bathroom, which by the way, we now have to clean, right?

Dr. Mark Benden: Yeah.

Gabe Duverge: Yeah.

Martha Parker: We walked over to the kitchen. As Dr. Benden jokes, we have a suntan from the refrigerator light. So, we don't walk as much as we did in the office. So, that two minutes is really important. Get outside, increase your fresh air component to your own personal body, get outside, walk around, take the dog, take the kid. Do whatever for that two minutes. It's amazing what that next 20 minutes of work on the computer sitting, if you only can sit, will be. You'll be so much more refreshed and able to just hit it and go.

Sometimes, it feels like, "Oh, you can't take a break because I'm right, I'm deep. I've got into my work. No breaks for me. I'm way too important. I work all the time." It doesn't work that way.

Gabe Duverge: It’s just not the case.

Martha Parker: Yeah. Your brain and your body just say, "Nope, I'm done, I'm out." So, that 20-8-2 is a good reminder as well.

Dr. Mark Benden: Yeah. I liked it. The message for folks, especially now that we're starting to invest in our homes more and the right products, those sit-stand desks are so critical. I tell people, "Just remember this when you're out working remotely, just sit less, move more." That's all you need to worry about. It's the same with our children, too. They really naturally are very physically active as you see the young ones bouncing around the room. That's how we were created, we were created to move. We as adults suppress that and train the opposite of that and practice the opposite of that. So, of course, when you ask adults to move, they groan. When you ask children sit still, they groan. So, we need to learn from the children on this one.

Gabe Duverge: It's got to be a little in between.

Dr. Mark Benden: A little in between. Yeah, definitely, no groaning.

Gabe Duverge: It's great. This is great information. I'm glad, Mark, that you mentioned that timing thing because I was going to ask about that. When you take that eight minutes of standing, when you take 8 minutes, 15 minutes per hour, however you do it, do you guys have any recommendation for how to stand? What's the best way to stand? Foot rest, no foot rest, that type of thing. Any recommendations on that frame?

Dr. Mark Benden: Absolutely. We've looked at seating for much longer, unfortunately, as a way to work. But if you go back, historically, we were actually on our feet for thousands of years. The chair is a modern invention, sitting while working. When I was growing up and working in a machine shop, it was an insult because the old guys would say, "What are you doing?" I said, "Well, I'm working." They say, "No, you're not." I said, "What are you talking about?" They say, "You're sitting down. You're sitting down, you're sitting down on the job." You ever heard that expression. "You're a slacker. You're not working. You can't work sitting."

That was more historically going way back to the typical thought about work. Now, modern office workers are a sort of, "Man, we've gone all in." We've embraced the great things right. All right. We got our $1,000 ergonomic chairs. We were dialled in. We got ones with buttons and levers and all kinds of stuff. Realistically, we need to increase that movement and get up and get more active. So, it's been a struggle to encourage this. The sit-stand desks need to have the same approach.

So, in seating, we now realise that there are upright and reclined and semi-reclined positions. For standing, there are upright, normal standing, if you want to think of it as standing, feet, shoulder- width apart, and two flat feet on the floor. Then there's also standing, even a little more comfortably in that position on something like an anti-fatigue mat. There is standing with one foot up on a foot rest. Then later, the other foot up on the foot rail or foot rest.

Then of course, there's prop, perch and lean. So, when I talk about that, what I mean by leaning is exactly what it sounds like, leaning against something, almost like a wall, that could just take 5 or 10% of your body weight by leaning backwards and alter your posture a little bit. You unload some of the large skeletal muscles that hold you upright. Then of course, perching is different because perching, you're really up on, say, like a round bar stool. You're like a bird. You're perched up on top of it. Then of course, leaning is a little bit different when you think about in terms of propping because leaning was just the thing where you're against the wall.

But propping, you actually have something underneath your buttocks. So, you've hooked your buttocks on the edge of something. You're taking a lot more of the weight or load off. Maybe one foot is still on the floor. One foot is up on a rail on that product. So, whether you prop, perch, lean, stand flat-footed, stand with one foot up on a foot rest, those are different positions you need to occupy while standing. So, it's not the 90, 90, 90 seated perfectly, robotic standing still, flat foot on both feet standing. It's not a binary choice between those two. There are lots of positions.

So, the thing for your folks to remember that are tuning in is that the best position you can be in ergonomically to work at your computer is your next one. So, the very optimal position, right, is the whole concept of change. It is the next position because what will happen is you go through that transition to that next position. That's the secret sauce. That's what's good for us, it's the transition to move.

Martha Parker: Move more.

Gabe Duverge: There you go. That's quite helpful. I think that's something we all can take from this. It seems like we've had to come together during these crazy times. As we've talked about, we're getting past this hackathon. We've made it through this first opening stretch, and we're seeing all these headlines of companies saying they're going to be working from home from 2021. As we talked about at the beginning, people could be working from home forever, or for at least as long as they're in these jobs.

So, it's important to get this type of ergonomic awareness out, so people can work efficiently with the least amount of risk to their health and well-being as possible. Of course, life, it will continue to throw us curve balls. As I mentioned in the last podcast for me, it's my toddler son. I know a lot of parents are dealing with the same challenges while they're working from home. Do you guys have any suggestions for those of us who have a kiddo, kiddos working around and working from home with us? Anyone who's trying to keep their sanity these days and maintain that perfect life balance, running a daycare and an office building in one.

Dr. Mark Benden: Yes.

Martha Parker: I think a lot of it is about negotiation. We didn't do this until we found out we needed to. So, negotiating with our work, with our workplace, with our manager, with our supervisor, negotiating with our partner, negotiating with our kids if they're old enough to negotiate with. Dr. Benden, it's great to work for him because he's always like, "Just get your job done, it doesn't matter when you do it." He hasn't been a stickler for that 8:00 to 5:00 or 7:00 to 4:00, or whatever. It's if I needed to work at 5:30 in the morning and then take a break to take care of my kid in the middle of the day, and then come back after that kid went to sleep, or maybe my partner took over cooking dinner, and so I could work during that time.

It's all about negotiation and being flexible. Everybody being flexible. So, it's not you taking on that responsibility just for yourself. You've got a demand in a nice way, of course. Flexibility from your employer, from your supervisor, from your manager, with your kid, if they're old enough, and from the people that you live with. I think that's the step we didn't do because we didn't know that we needed to do it, until we were like, "I can’t to do it and the kids are driving me crazy." We didn't know, "Oh, we should have thought about this beforehand," but now we know, right? Now we know.

Gabe Duverge: Of course.

Martha Parker: That's an important step.

Dr. Mark Benden: That is really important. Yeah. I think that touches on another aspect of this whole process that we're living in right now. When you look historically through things like sports records and you look at one season versus the next, or you look at how the stock market performed, every so often, maybe every 20, 30, 40, 50 years even, there's a footnote for that year. For baseball, it might have been a strike here. For the stock market, it might have been the crash of 29. There's an asterisk. There's an explanation. We are living in a footnote, right now. This is life in a footnote.

So, we have to give ourselves permission to do a little self-care. We need to, of course, worry about our physical health, our nutrition, diet, exercise, that sort of thing. But we got to go beyond that. We really got to be checking our emotional and our spiritual health because that all ties into our well-being. You just can't do one without the other. Now, the good news about this with families and of course, children and stuff is that there is a whole host of research out there on quantity of relational experiences with close loved ones.

I know we always try to push quality. People like me who work a lot would say something like that. "Well, I have quality time with my children" because I'm…” There really is some good evidence that quantity is also familiarity. Being around and being with them is really important. Parents are getting that right now. They're getting to spend more time with their children. So, it's hard and it's frustrating at times. Of course, we're dealing with a lot of external demands and deadlines like schoolwork, and this is due on that day. Of course, things would tie to our own work.

There are some real positive pieces of it. We just have to train ourselves to latch onto some of those and not so many of the negatives because, like I say, it is a tough time and there's a lot of anxiety and a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. We need to do what we can in our own homes and with our own friends and family. Part of that is not social distancing, but physical distancing. We have to be physically distant because of this stuff in the air that we breathe, but we don't have to be socially distant from people. We can still connect with people, even online, preferably, not through social media, but even phone calls. We can still make those connections.

Gabe Duverge: Definitely. That's all great information. I definitely identify with the fact that it's like trying to find those positives especially dealing with children. Ideally, these circumstances are not the best circumstances that I wouldn't have predicted a year ago, a year and a half ago or when my son was born, that I'd be able to spend four or five months with him. It's such a critical time in his life. Obviously, he's not going to remember. It's a unique blessing, definitely.

Dr. Mark Benden: It is.

Gabe Duverge: This has been a fantastic conversation with both of you. I want to thank you both again for your time. While I wrap things up, I wanted to know if there's any short mottos, punching points, any sayings that either of you have that we can go off on and wrap this thing up with.

Dr. Mark Benden: Martha, anything?

Martha Parker: Mine is communicate. We all have a tendency, I think, especially in this unprecedented time... I swear I wasn't going to use unprecedented, but I just did, that we all tend to hole up and not talk and not let people know what's going on with us, not let people know what we need, not take care of ourselves. So I think communication is a really big tool now and in the future. So, I would say communicate more.

Dr. Mark Benden: Definitely. Speaking of things I do not say, I want to outlaw the phrase, out of an abundance of caution. So I just ruled it outlawed.

Gabe Duverge: Delete that email I’m sending over.

Dr. Mark Benden: Anyway, I think that from an ergonomic perspective and the things we talked about, sit less, move more, obviously, get outside and take a walk, and then finally, make sure that the stuff you're interacting with in your environment fits you, make sure that it's designed to adjust and accommodate your body shape, size and your work needs. That's ergonomics. Make that stuff work for you.

Gabe Duverge: Definitely. Those are great things and fun. Thank you so much to both of you, sincerely, for your time here today. This is the end of part two of our work-from-home ergonomic series. I want to thank everyone who's listening and watching for tuning in to another episode of LINcast. As always, if you'd like to learn more about these design-related topics, we have plenty of content for you at linak-us.com. We look forward to talking to you next time. Take care.

Dr. Mark Benden Bio

Dr. Mark Benden

Mark E. Benden, PhD, CPE received his BS in bioengineering, MS in industrial engineering and PhD from Texas A&M University. He is also a Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE #706). His career includes experience as an officer, an inventor, a rehabilitation engineer, an ergonomics consultant, a plant & corporate ergonomics engineer and executive vice president. His career includes work for organisations such as the United States Army Reserve, Johnson & Johnson, Neutral Posture and to Texas A&M University.He currently serves as Executive Director of the Texas A&M Ergo Center and Department Chair for the Environmental & Occupational Health Department within the School of Public Health.

He is the founder of three faculty-led startups - PositiveMotion LLC, Stand2Learn LLC and the Wellbeing Code Inc, and has licensed seven different products to four different companies since becoming a faculty member in 2008. His 30-year career in occupational safety and ergonomics has produced multiple processes, tools and devices to decrease injury and illness risk. Most of those devices are still protected by 22 US Patents, and Dr. Benden has multiple patents pending. Sales of those items carrying his patent numbers have totalled over $750 M, and the expected lifetime economic impact of those designs exceeds $2B. Stand2Learn, his most recent startup, with millions of dollars in sales was acquired in 2018 by Varidesk after a five-year run up. More than 1,000,000 children in all 50 states and 32 countries have used his desks, and under his leadership as CEO, his company was initially profitable with year-on-year growth averaging more than 100%. Awards for the success of Stand2Learn include 2019 VET50 list (#35) & 2018 Inc 5000 (#567) and #5 on the 2018 Aggie 100 (#5).

Dr. Benden is the author of many articles, books and book chapters on ergonomics and has been called upon to speak and lecture to multiple professional groups throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and Central and South America. He has been married to his wife, Teresa, for 32 years and has 3 sons, 3 daughters in-law and 6 grandchildren.

Martha Parker Bio

Martha Parker

Martha Parker, M.S., CPE is an ergonomist and project manager with the Texas A&M Ergo Center in College Station, TX. She contributes to and manages multiple consulting projects, further education classes, and research projects within the Ergo Center. Formerly with m-erg, an ergonomic consulting firm based in Houston, TX, Martha was president and founder. Her m-erg team technically supported customers by offering ergonomic assistance in design, redesign, and retrofit of new and existing office and industrial workspaces. m-erg also provided ergonomic training through seminars and individual workstation assessments.

Prior to that, Martha worked for Neutral Posture, Inc. as an ergonomist and was a founding member of the Neutral Posture Ergonomic Engineering Team (NEET). She also worked for ALCOA, Tennessee Operations as the smelting safety engineer and for Texas A&M University as a graduate research assistant. She earned her M.S degree in Safety Engineering with an Ergonomic Specialty from Texas A&M in May 1997. Her graduate thesis is entitled "An Investigation of the Transportation Methods of Laptop Computers".

She acquired a B.S. in Bioengineering with an Industrial Engineering Specialty from Texas A&M in December 1995. She is a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), and the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP). She is registered with the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics as a Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE).

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