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Computer/Workstation Ergonomics

Your Workplace Checklist:

Computer workstations must be flexible enough to accommodate the various individuals using them. Use this checklist to identify problems in your work area. If you are not following a specific guideline listed here it likely indicates the need for adjustment or changes in the workplace or job design. You should consider seeking professional ergonomic advice to safely address your situation. Ask your employer for assistance or speak to Dr. Kleinberg about changes you can make in your workstation. A "healthy workstation" will greatly impact your health and wellness.

Your Workstation and Monitor

  • Top surface of the keyboard space bar (or bottom row of keys) should be no higher that 6.5 cm (2.5 in.) above the work surface.

  • During keyboarding, use the forearm and upper arm to form an angle of 80-100 degrees, with the upper arm almost vertical.

  • The wrist should be relaxed and not bent; have wrist rests available.

  • If used primarily for text entry, keyboard should be directly in front of you.

  • If used primarily for data entry, keyboard should be directly in front of the keying hand.

  • Keyboard should be movable and detached.

  • Top of screen should be about eye level with your head up.

  • Viewing distance should be 30-60 cm (12-24 in.).

  • Screen should be free of glare or shadows.

  • Images on the screen should be sharp, easy to read and do not flicker.


Your Chair

  • Chair should have wheels or castors suitable for the floor surface.

  • Chair should swivel; avoid rotation.

  • Backrest should be adjustable for both height and angle.

  • Backrest supports the inward curve of the lower back.

  • Chair height should be appropriate for the individual and the work surface height.

  • Chair should be adjusted so that there is no pressure on the backs of the legs, and feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest.

  • Chair should be adjustable from the sitting position.

  • Chair upholstery should be a breathable fabric.

  • Footrests should be used if feet do not rest flat on the floor.

Your Work Surface

  • Work surface height should be adjustable if possible

  • Legroom should be sufficient to change positions of legs without getting up.

  • Work surface should be large enough to hold work materials.

  • Commonly used items should be close to and in front of you.

  • Infrequently used items should be stored separately.


Your Visual Environment

  • Lighting should not produce direct glare or reflection on the screen.

  • Lighting should allow workers to easily read characters on the screen and source document.

  • Wall colour should be neutral and not too bright.

  • Shiny surfaces and objects should be covered or removed.

  • Windows should have blinds or curtains to prevent glare.

  • Monitors should be located away from windows, or screens should be at a 90-degree angle to windows.

  • Ceiling fluorescent lights should be oriented lengthwise to the sides of monitor.

  • Room lighting should be uniform and slightly dimmer that usual office lighting.

  • General work areas should have indirect or diffused lighting.

  • Ceiling fluorescent lights should be covered with diffusers of parabolic louvers.

  • Adjustable task lights should be available over source documents.


Common Symptoms and Causes of Workplace Strain

Neck Pain


  • Monitor too high, chair too low

  • Monitor or document holder too far off the line of vision.

  • Poor sitting posture

  • Slumping and slouching

  • Typing with winged up shoulders

Shoulder Pain

  • Tense shoulders while typing

  • Poor breathing mechanics


Elbow Pain

  • Desk is too high

  • Operating the mouse located too far to the side

  • Rubbing the elbow & forearm on desktop


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Excessive up and down wrist and finger movement

  • Typing with wrist bent upwards

  • Tense or tight grip on a mouse

  • Muscle imbalances & weaknesses


Low Back Pain

  • Sitting too long in one position

  • Poor sitting posture

  • Slumping and slouching

  • Chair is too high

  • Poor lifting techniques

  • Lack of fitness


Eye Strain, blurry itchy eyes

  • Reading materials too close or too far

  • Too much or too little illumination

  • Glare

  • Allergies 

  • Fatigue

  • Improper location of reading materials

  • Uncorrected vision

  • Low humidity


The Monitor and Your Workstation

  • Monitors come with various features that are built in or that can be added. Use the adjustments that are provided.

  • Eliminate glare caused by lights, windows or bright objects. If reflections can still be seen, use an anti-glare mesh filter as a last resort.

  • Adjust screen brightness and contrast. It is easier to read from the screen if the characters are brighter than the background.

  • Be careful not to make characters too bright.

  • Adjust the screen height so the top is just about eye level.

  • Tilt the screen slightly backwards. Ensure that this does not create glare on the screen.

  • Adjust chair, work surface and keyboard heights properly.

  • Position keyboard for two-handed typing directly in front of operator. Position keyboard for one-handed data entry in front of keying hand. Leave a large area free for source documents and other work materials.

  • Move the keyboard occasionally to change the arm and shoulder position.

  • Use a wrist rest if the heel of the hand or wrist is not supported.

  • Use an adjustable document holder. Place it next to the screen and at the same height. The head will have to turn less and eyes will adjust more easily.

  • Alternate position of document holder on either side of monitor to vary head position or prefer side of "Dominant Eye".

  • Connect keyboard to monitor with a cord that is at least 70 cm (28 in.) long or use a wireless, Bluetooth keyboard

  • Check for excessive noise from the monitor or printer.

  • Clean the monitor screen regularly. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Report to your supervisor if you experience problems with monitor controls, flicker or excessive noise.

  • Use a document holder that's movable and adjustable.


Ceiling Light Fixtures

  • Filters to evenly disperse light

  • Located to side of computer



  • Neutral, non-glare finish on walls and furniture

  • Minimum of noise


How to Use Your Mouse

  • Using the mouse for long periods causes discomfort and can lead to an injury.

  • Try using a wireless mouse

  • Suitable layout of the workstation and proper work practices reduce the risk of injury.

  • Do place the mouse at the same level and as close to the side of the keyboard as feasible.

  • Keep your hand at elbow level when using the mouse.

  • Place the mouse pad on a movable sleeve over numerical keys of the keyboard; a high quality mouse may not require a mouse pad.

  • Support your arm on the armrest or the desk.

  • Get adequate training on how to position and use the mouse.

  • Maintain neutral body position and relaxed movements when using the mouse.

  • Hold the mouse loosely with the palm and all fingers.

  • Keep the wrist relaxed and straight. Do not lift your pinkie finger.

  • Apply a light touch while clicking.

  • Move the mouse with your whole arm initiating the move from the shoulder.

  • Do not squeeze the mouse, or press buttons with excessive force.

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