A Practical Guide to Workstation Ergonomics

A Practical Guide to your own Workstation Assessment

The Chair

  • The chair should be at a height that your feet can rest flat on the floor with your thighs on a gentle slope down towards your knees (there should be a 90° – 120° angle between your upper body and thighs)
  • The lumbar support on the chair should fit into the lower curve of your spine
  • Having the back of the chair leaning back slightly will help ease the pressure on your lower back
  • There should be a gap of 50 – 75 mm between the edge of the chair and the back of your knees
  • Have your chair positioned close enough so that when your hands are on the keyboard your elbows should be by your sides.

The Desk

  • The angle of your elbow (between your upper and lower part of your arm) should be between 90° – 120° when your hands are resting on the desk. Raise or lower accordingly
  • If your desk is a fixed height
    • And too low you may need to install desk raisers to achieve the correct elbow ankle
    • If the desk is too high, then you can use a foot rest and raise the height of you chair to achieve the correct elbow angle

The Computer Monitor

  • Raise or lower the monitor so the top of the screen is approximately horizontal with your eyes
  • The monitor should be positioned about an arm’s length away from you when seated
  • Ideally there should be no reflected glare from nearby windows or lighting on the screen



Preventing Workplace Overuse Injuries

Despite your workstation setup being correct this on its on may not guarantee you remain pain free specially if you are spending long periods in front of your computer.

Here are a few things you can do at work to help prevent any painful conditions developing.

  • Regularly swap the mouse over to the opposite side (I.e. weekly). This will feel awkward at first but keep persisting as this will allow your hand and forearm muscles on you mouse dominant hand a rest
  • Every hour it is recommended you take a 5-minute break from the keyboard as this will help prevent muscle fatigue and stiffness.
  • Try and take your rostered breaks (morning and afternoon tea and lunch) away from the computer
  • Ensure you drink plenty of water as keeping our bodies and muscles hydrated and helps our muscles work more efficiently
  • Good diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing) aids in the reduction of stress and muscle tightness (link on good breathing)
  • Regular stretches are key. If you feel a tight or sore muscle make sure you stretch it. The following link has a good range of animated stretches for the body
  • A regular massage helps to flush out the muscles, relax tired and tight muscles and also helps with your stress levels.


If you are experiencing pain and have tried all of the above, it is advised to see your health care professional sooner rather than later.