Office ergonomics

Computer use is considered a manual task. Computer work can expose workers to prolonged awkward postures, sustained postures and repetitive movement.

To minimise these risks, adequate breaks must be taken, tasks must be rotated, and good workstation design, layout, and adjustable equipment must be considered.

It may be necessary to determine whether the work is best carried out in a seated or standing position, or a combination of the two. There should be a mix of seated and standing tasks – workers should avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. It is a requirement that workers are consulted when carrying out a workstation assessment.

Workstations should be designed so workers can carry out their work in a comfortable, upright position with shoulders relaxed and upper arms close to the body. Different workers require different working heights. You must provide workstations suitable for the person and the task. For example, by providing adjustable workstations.

Many tasks are best done in a seated position, for example screen-based work, fine component assembly or tasks involving the frequent use of foot controls. For tasks undertaken in a seated position, the PCBU should provide seating enabling the work to be performed in a safe and ergonomically sound working position. Workers should be provided with seating that:

  • is fully adjustable
  • is appropriate for the type of work performed
  • provides good body support, especially for the lower back
  • provides foot support, preferably with both feet flat on the floor, otherwise a footrest should be provided, and
  • allows space for leg clearance and freedom of movement.


Chairs should be fully adjustable to accommodate different-sized workers with seat height, back rest height and back rest tilt adjustments and should not tip or slip – a five-point base is the most stable. Castors should be used on carpet and glides or braked castors on hard surfaces.

Some standing tasks may be carried out using a sit/stand chair, for example some process or inspection work. This means that workers can support themselves on the chair while still carrying out the standing task. If the job is primarily carried out while standing, but the nature of the work allows workers to sit from time to time, appropriate seating should be provided. This allows workers to vary their position between sitting and standing. At no time should a worker be at risk by performing manual tasks while seated.

Seating may need to be provided to allow workers to sit down from time to time where the following work activities are carried out:

  • light manual work such as process work on production lines
  • work involving accurate control or fine manipulation such as component assembly
  • work involving the frequent use of foot controls over a long period
  • counter duties.

Further information



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