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How To Design Office Workstations For Optimal Health And Safety

It should come as no surprise that working at a computer in awkward positions for long periods can cause pain, discomfort and even injury (such as sprains and strains in the neck, back, shoulders, wrists and hands). In order to minimise these risks in the workplace, it is important have a good office workstation design, layout and setup.

office workstation

Workstation Setup

  • Before starting work, check that the office workstation has been set up to suit you and your tasks for the day. This could include having your desk adjusted to the correct ergonomic height;
  • Position the monitor so that you don’t need to tilt/arch your head or back, or twist your neck in order to see it. A monitor arm may be what you need in view of adjusting this correctly;
  • Position your keyboard directly in front of you and push it back so that your forearms are supported on the front part of the desk whilst typing;
  • Have enough space so that your keyboard and mouse can be comfortably used on the same level of the desk surface;
  • Position your arm close to your side when using the mouse (you can ask a colleague to double check you’re doing this);
  • Use a document holder if you refer to documents whilst typing; and
  • Keep all frequently used items (such as the phone) within easy reach.

Seating

  • Choose a chair that you can sit in comfortably (remember that they can be ordered in all different sizes);
  • Adjust your chair to suit you, including the lumbar support, backrest and the seat’s height and tilt. We would recommend finding a chair with a 3 lever fully ergonomic mechanism to ensure the chair has all the correct adjustments needed for longer seating; and
  • Sit closely to the tabletop (be sure to remove fixed armrests if they prevent you from doing this). A radius shaped top will allow you to sit closer to the top on a corner workstation.

Work Practices

  • Look at ways that you can change your posture and encourage movement, such as walking to the printer or photocopier;
  • Get involved in discussions about your workstations, equipment and furniture, and participate in trials before purchasing;
  • Report any faulty or broken furniture and equipment to your supervisor as soon as they come to your attention; and
  • Remember that everyone is responsible for workplace health and safety.

Making a few small changes can significantly reduce your risk of injury. It can help to think about what you’re already doing that could be considered good design or that gets you up and about. Be sure to discuss with your supervisor if you’re having problems with your office workstation design or if you’re unable to make any of the changes we have outlined above.

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