Guidelines for setting up a workstation assessment

Follow the steps below to set up your workstation. If you still have concerns about your workstation contact your local OSLO (Occupational Strains Liaison Officer) for assistance. If you have a work-related injury complete an online Incident Notification form and a health professional from OHS will assess your workstation.

Steps to setting up your workstation:

1. Chair

Check the condition of your chair. Become familiar with what each control does. Your chair should:

  • be in good working order - all the controls working
  • offer support to your lumbar curve in your lower back
  • have a back rest that extends at least to the mid spine
  • be wide enough to support your thighs

Sit with your bottom at the back of the seat and make the following adjustments:

  • height - feet should be well supported, thighs parallel to the floor
  • seat tilt - may be horizontal or tipped forward slightly dependant on personal preference
  • back rest height - the convex curve of the back rest support the curve in your lower back
  • back rest angle - aim for a trunk angle of 90 to 100 degrees for screen based tasks. This angle can be altered for reading and meetings.

Arm rests should not restrict your ability to have your body close to the desk. Lower the arm rests or remove them if this is the case. Arm rests are generally not recommended for computer use.

Note. These instructions are suitable for adjustable desks. If your desk is not adjustable you will need to adjust your chair height so that your work is at elbow height.

2. Desk

Sit with shoulders relaxed, upper arm by side, elbows bent at 90, forearms parallel to the floor and wrists straight. Your desk height should be adjusted to be just below the height of your elbow so that the position of your work is at elbow height. If you have a drop down key tray adjust the height of the tray in the same way.

Your feet should be firmly supported when sitting at your desk. If your desk is not adjustable or does not lower far enough to achieve this you require a footstool. The footstool should be sturdy and support the whole of your foot.

3. Monitor

Position the monitor for comfortable viewing, usually about arms distance away. Suitable distance will be influenced by screen size, and individual requirements.

Adjust the height of the screen so that your eyes are level with top tool bar. The bottom of screen should be comfortably read without inclining the head.

Note. Wearers of bi-focal or multi-focal lenses are likely to need the screen lower to avoid tipping head to view screen through lower portion of glasses.

Dual monitors

Set-up monitors to match your usage pattern. If your screen use is 50/50, place your screens on a slight angle next to each other, with the mid point central to you. If one screen is used primarily placed this directly in front of you and place the secondary screen immediately next to it on a slight angle to the right or left side. Screens should be at the same height.

4. Keyboard

Position the keyboard directly in front of you. The 'B' key should be centred on you unless you primarily use the numerical keypad. Raise the feet of the keyboard to have it flat for a straighter wrist position when working. It is acceptable to have the keyboard position between five to 15cm from the edge of the desk.

5. Mouse

Position your mouse very close to and at the same height as your keyboard.

Mousing on the right side with a standard keyboard can result in a deviated arm position as shown below. Aim to have your hand in line with your elbow and shoulder rather than a deviated position. Consider mousing on the left or a short keyboard to improve your arm position for mousing.

6. Telephone

If your phone is used frequently it should be close enough to reach without needing to reach the shoulder forward. Positioning the phone on your non-dominant side is advantageous if you have any need to take notes or use the mouse while on the phone.

7. Document holder

Central document holders placed between the keyboard and monitor are preferred. Upright movable document holders should be placed next to the screen and at the same height and distance from the user.

8. Storage

Arrange your storage shelves so that the heaviest and most frequently used folders or books are on the shelves around waist height (or between shoulder and mid-thigh height). If you have a shelf above your desk keep the most frequently used items in easy reach.

For more information about hazards in the workplace, consult Comcare's Virtual Office.

Page owner: Human Resources