Office Workstations

Properly arranging your workstation and computer equipment (keyboard, mouse, monitor, chair) is key to avoiding awkward postures and reducing the risk of pain or discomfort that can lead to a musculoskeletal injury when working at your computer:

  • Bent wrists (up/down, inward/outward)
  • Bent or twisted neck
  • Twisted back
  • Extended reaches (overhead, forward, backward, sideways)

The following tips are important for properly arranging/adjusting your chair, computer, monitor and keyboard:

Monitor Position

  • Position directly in front to avoid twisting your neck or trunk.
  • Top of screen should generally be slightly below eye level.
  • Top of screen should be even lower if bifocals are used.
  • Position monitor close enough to avoid the need for leaning forward to view. Recommended distance is 40-70 cm (18-29”).

Keyboard

  • Position directly in front to avoid twisting your neck or trunk.
  • Adjust height to keep shoulder relaxed and arms bent at approximately 90 degree angle.
  • Position close to your body so your arms hang freely at your sides and you can reach the keys without reaching.
  • Use the keyboard legs and/or keyboard tray to adjust tilt to keep wrists straight in line with forearms while keying (i.e. no significant bending of the wrist).
  • Do not rest your wrists on hard surface edges when keying.

Mouse

  • Choose a mouse that fits comfortably in your hand.
  • Position directly beside keyboard and within easy reach with arms hanging freely at your side.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body.
  • Move your arm when mousing rather than using only your wrist.
  • Do not rest your wrist on hard surface edges when mousing.

Chairs and Armrests

  • Adjust backrest to provide good support of upper back and lumbar area.
  • Backrest and seat pan angle should be comfortable.
  • Legs should be supported by floor or footrest to prevent too much pressure being exerted on underside of legs.
  • Adjust armrests just below elbow height to allow arms to hang freely at your sides.
  • Armrests should not interfere with your arm movements.

Accessories (telephone, printer, stapler, papers, books, folders)

  • Prioritize the items so the most frequently accessed items are within arm’s reach.
  • Consider a telephone headset if you spend a lot of time on the phone.
  • Keep frequently used heavier items nearby on your desktop rather than in a hard to reach location
  • Avoid using overhead cabinets for storing heavier and frequently accessed items to avoid overexerting yourself when retrieving these items.
  • Consider breaking large binders into smaller, more manageable ones.

Rest Breaks and Stretching Exercises

Two of the most effective methods for preventing MSD injuries are stretching your muscles and giving them a break. Rest breaks and stretching exercises give your body time to recover from the stresses of computer work and increases blood flow to the areas.  Generally, a 5 minute rest break from computer work is recommended every hour.