From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Arm Supports and Cushions

Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH


Table edge cushioning

Small benchtop cushions

Box Foampad
Box used as arm support Foam pad brought from home


There are two often-interrelated issues:

Support for the arm when extended — to prevent fatigue that can cause pain as well as interfere with production. A common situation is when the work is raised to improve visibility. Usually arm support is required.

Cushioning for any part of the arm that rests on a hard edge or surface — to minimize pressure points on the elbow or arm that can create discomfort and also interfere with work.


Eliminate static load on shoulder, i.e. minimize fatigue. Eliminate pressure points on any part of arm. Place hand and arm in good working position.

Ideas and options



Workstation ledge

Elbow ledge built into workbench

In the example shown above, the employee is feeding electrical leads into a crimping machine, which requires good visibility and thus is positioned almost at eye level. A ledge was built into the workstation and padded to provide arm support.

Slanted supports

Microscope1 Microscope2
Microscope on top of slanted, soft support Commercially available microscope support (

Working with arms extended on miniscule items can quickly fatigue muscles, which creates slight tremors that interfere with the work. Thus there have been special needs for arm supports for microscopes. The concept can be applied in other situations.

Articulating arm supports

Articulating1 Articulating2 Articulating3
Click for video: Articulating armrest Height adjustment

One of the best types of arm supports is this articulating arm version. It supports the forearm yet moves easily when working, thus very beneficial for light assembly and manufacturing.

Fixed supports

Fixed1 Fixed2
Fixed forearm support High forearm pad

Countless types of simple arm supports can be devised to support the arms in an extended or raised position. Ideally, it would be better to lower the work to position the elbows at the sides of the body, but supports like these can be helpful.

Designed into machine

MachineRest1 MachineRest2
Machine with built-in arm rests

It is rare for machinery to be designed with built-in arm rests, but the idea has merit and should be considered more often.


Table edge cushions

Edge1 Edge2
Sharp edge Pipe wrap and tape

Resting the forearms on the hard edge of a workbench is a very common issue, fortunately one that can be inexpensive to fix. In the example above, all that was needed was pipe wrap and tape.

Edge3 Edge4
Hard table edge “ErgoEdge”

More professional-looking edging material is commercially available.

Small benchtop cushions

Cushion1 Cushion2
Before: Bent wrist After: Thick padding

These photos show a task that required pushing materials upwards to a machine. The upward exertion was moderate, but the position had to be held for short periods, thus creating a static load. The bench could be used as a support, but doing so was awkward. Adding a small stack of unused computer mouse pads resulted in significant improvement.

Cushion3 Cushion4
Miscellaneous cushions (

There is no limit to the types of small pads and cushions that can be used to support the arms or cushion them against hard edges. Wrist rests used for computer keyboards are readily available and can be used in manufacturing settings.