Ergonomics in the workplace is an important consideration for injury prevention and
pain management. Follow the below guidelines to ensure your workstation setup is
optimised. An ergonomic workstation setup can help decrease neck, back, hip,
shoulder, or wrist pain.
Work Surface Height
If doing paperwork tasks, your desk height should be 2.5-5cm above your elbow height
if you are sitting in a chair.
With computer based tasks, you want the work surface to accommodate your computer.
When seated, the top of your computer screen should be where your line of sight
Your monitor should be about an arm’s length away from you.
Tilt your computer screen back away from your face to decrease the strain on your neck
and eyes. Tilting your monitor back about 3 centimeters, so that your eyes naturally fall
on the address bar (or URL bar) of your internet browser, will decrease the strain on
your neck and keep your eyes at a comfortable level.
Your buttocks should be positioned very close to the back of the chair. Your knees
should not be touching the front of the chair cushion. Ensure that there is about a 3-5cm
gap between the back of your knees and the front of your chair.
Lower your chair so that your feet rest comfortably on the ground with your knees bent.
Your arm rests should not interfere with arm movements or limit your ability to sit close
to your computer. Ensure that your armrests are at a height where your forearms can
rest naturally with your elbows bent and your shoulders relaxed.
An “L” configuration is recommended to allow easy access to both computer and open
There should be no obstruction to the knee swivel space, to ensure that transition
between both spaces is easy and fluid.
Place frequently used items within forearm’s reach. Place occasionally used items
within arm’s reach. Documents should be supported on a raised vertical angle if they
are being consulted while using a computer. Consider purchasing a document ramp for
this purpose. Documents should be positioned beside the monitor or between the
monitor and the keyboard.
Place the mouse as close to the keyboard as possible. Your mouse should be the same
vertical height or slightly higher than the keyboard. It should never be lower than the
keyboard. A mouse that is far away from and lower than the keyboard forces the user to
reach further. Appropriate mouse placement keeps the mousing arm close to the body,
the elbow bent, the shoulder neutral, and the wrist straight. This is the optimal
ergonomic position for the upper extremity.
Your keyboard should line up with your computer screen. Never have the keyboard and
computer screen at different angles. This will cause excessive neck strain and
movement throughout your work day. Below is a diagram of appropriate mouse and
Keep your wrists straight while you are typing (as if you were playing a piano). If your
keyboard is on a retractable platform, tilt it slightly away from you or keep it level; never
tilt it towards you. This means that the front of the keyboard (the side closest to you)
should be level or slightly lower than the back of the keyboard.
Do not anchor your wrists while typing, but keep them floating above the surface of the
keyboard. Your forearms resting on the edge of the desk or on the armrests of your
chair should be taking the weight of your arms while typing.
Having the keyboard too low can cause you to extend your wrists to type. Another
common reason why your wrists could be extended is that your keyboard tray itself is
propped up on its small legs. If this tends to make you extend your wrists, lower these
legs to make your keyboard sit flat.
Wrist extension (bringing the back of your hand closer to the back of your forearm)
causes more pressure on your carpal tunnel, which is a sensitive structure in the base
of your wrist. Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome is tingling or soreness on
the palm side of your wrist.
Use a soft touch when typing, and keep your fingers gently curved. Break up prolonged
keyboarding with other tasks for at least five minutes of every hour. Beyond this larger
break, take frequency micro-breaks to stretch your arms and hands.
Wrist Placement While Typing and Mousing
It is common to have a bent wrist while typing or using a mouse. Bending your wrist
causes increased tendon friction and irritation. It also requires more muscle force to
accomplish a task. Lastly, bending your wrists to type increases pressure in your carpal
tunnel area, which is a common site of nerve entrapment at the base of your wrist,
where it meets the palm of your hand. Keeping your wrists straight while you type and
use a mouse decreases pressure in your wrist and lowers the risk of injury.
Reducing window glare will help your eyes from being strained and tired. Place your
monitor perpendicular (at a 90 degree angle) to the closest window. If necessary, use
window blinds to further reduce glare.
Light sources should be on either side of your monitor, not in front of or behind you.
Ensure that you have access to operate window blinds, and that the blinds can be
lowered or raised as needed.
Reducing Eye Strain
A good way to reduce eye strain is to adjust monitor brightness and contrast settings on
your computer screen. Make sure that the size of the text of your screen is at least 3.5
mm high. This will ensure that you are not straining your eyes to see the text when the
screen is a comfortable arm’s length away from you. A good font size for most people
without vision problems is around 12 point.
Make sure that the refresh rate on your computer is set to as infrequent a rate as
possible, to avoid constant flickering of your screen which can strain your eyes over
About every 30 minutes, look at a distant view for 30 seconds to 1 minute (at the other
side of the room, down the hallway, or out the window), to rest your eyes. Your eyes
use different muscles when looking at something close up and something far away, so
this break for your eyes is an important way to decrease discomfort from looking at your