Office safety - Frequently asked questions

This page contains frequently asked questions on office safety.

Should I be sitting all day?                                         

No.  We have known for some time that sedentary lifestyles are not beneficial for our health.  Prolonged sitting at work can also adversely affect your health.    

You should where possible alternate between sitting, standing and walking throughout the day.  Simple changes that can be made include:

  • Walking to pick up your printing or to talk to a colleague rather than emailing
  • Having walking meetings
  • Walking or standing when making phone calls using headsets
  • Standing during presentations or education sessions
  • Taking a walk during your lunch break
  • Using equipment such as a sit/stand workstation (where practicable)

Is there a safe way of using mobile technology (laptops, tablets, mobile phones)?

Mobile technology is designed to be used for short periods of time only, for example when reading or sending a message, or making small changes to an existing document. Prolonged usage of laptops or tablets requires the use of an external keyboard and mouse and a screen located at eye height; either through use of an external monitor or a laptop stand.  Where assistive equipment (keyboard, mouse, laptop stand) is not available, minimise the prolonged use of laptops, tablets and other mobile devices.

Additional information:

How do I work from home safely?

Any home based work is seen as an extension of the primary workplace, so employee requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (1984) to take reasonable care of their own health and safety is the same at home as is would be at the workplace.  This includes the need to report any hazards or incidents to the employer as well as ensuring that hazards in the home are managed.

Ensuring you have an appropriate workstation, chair and equipment if carrying out computer work is essential and you must set up your workstation appropriately. For more information refer to How to Set Up Your WorkStation.

Are fitballs a suitable seat for use in an office?

Use of fitballs (also known as fitness balls, swiss balls, gym balls or physio balls) is not recommended for seating in the office due to the instability of the balls.  If your medical provider or therapist has recommended that you use a fitball as a temporary rehabilitation tool then it should be prescribed and fitted to the person with clear instructions on when to use it, how to use it and for how long it should be used.  Prior to its use, a worksite assessment should be undertaken to ensure that the work can be safely performed while seated on the fitness ball. The use of the fitness ball should be regularly reviewed by

  • Fitballs are NOT an alternative to a properly adjustable chair
  • Fitballs are designed as an exercise tool they are not designed as a chair
  • Fitballs do not provide lower back support, particularly in a relaxed positions and can actually increase muscle strain
  • Fitballs do not have a stable base and therefore move around, particularly if a person is not concentrating (such as when focusing on computer based tasks) and therefore use of fitballs can increase the  risk of injury from falls

Overall having fitballs in the office for exercises and stretching is acceptable but they are not a substitute for a properly adjusted chair.

For more information see the WorkSafe Victoria Fitness balls are not suitable as chairs

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