Creating Comfortable and Safe Computer Workstations-March 2010

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

March 2010

IN THIS ISSUE: Creating Comfortable and Safe Computer Workstations

Computer users often complain about back and neck strain, headaches, and hand and wrist pain.  In the workplace, the computer workstation is the common culprit.  A safe and comfortable computer workstation allows the parts of the body to remain in their natural position.  Any deviation from those positions creates stress on the body. 

“When you shake hands or walk down the street, your wrist, neck, and head are in their most natural and comfortable position,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP. “However, most computer workstations are one size fits all, and so adjustments must be made to fit individuals comfortably.”

Computer workstations should be fitted to the user in order to ensure safe and comfortable use.  When evaluating and adjusting workstations, focus on body position, seating, and the computer.*

  • Body Position. The workstation should allow the user to keep his or her thighs horizontal, lower legs vertical, and feet on the floor.  It should allow the hands to remain close to the body, with elbows at a 90 degree angle, and the wrists to remain at a straight, natural position. 
  • Seating.  The chair should be adjustable so the seat, back, and arms rests can fit the user.  It should have a padded seat with a rounded front, arm rests absent or able to support the arms at a comfortable height, and provide lumbar support.
  • Keyboard.  The keyboard should allow the wrists to remain in a comfortable position, and wrist rests may be helpful in achieving this. Contoured or split keyboards are helpful. The keyboard should allow a minimum of force to strike the keys.
  • Mouse.  The mouse should fit the hand so make several sizes available. It should be located as close to and the keyboard as possible, and slightly higher. It should be placed so the wrist remains straight and the fingers are in a comfortable position. 
  • Monitor.  The monitor should allow the operator to look ahead with the head slightly tilted. Glare should be lessened or eliminated and there should be contrast and brightness controls.

Even with the best designed workstation, the operator is still the key. Without good training, employees will not know how to adjust the workstations, use proper postures, and know how to report problems when they occur. As new technologies are introduced into the workplace, their impact on the employee should be evaluated.  Be proactive and solve problems before they become major headaches for you and your employees. 

For a detailed computer workstation checklist, visit OSHA at

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health.   OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

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