Assessment of workstations and other hazardous manual tasks may result in the need to purchase specific ergonomic equipment. There is a wide variety of ergonomically designed equipment available, including chairs, adjustable-height or sit-stand desks, monitor raisers or arms, alternative mouse devices, keyboards, document holders, reading slopes, footrests, headsets, keyboard sleeves, anti-fatigue mats, etc.
Managers should discuss firstly with their WHS Business Partner/Coordinator if planning to purchase non-standard ergonomic equipment (e.g. specialised mouse devices).
Chairs used for sitting at workstations should be selected to ensure that the user is appropriately supported. Chairs should be fully adjustable to accommodate different size workers. Chairs selected should meet the following requirements:
Should an individual require an alternative chair, they should firstly discuss with their Supervisor/Manager and if required consult with their WHS Business Partner/Coordinator. In some situations, advice may be required from a treating practitioner.
The fitness ball is NOT recommended for use as workstation seating but may be used to provide postural breaks and to complete stretches and exercises from during breaks.
Hazards associated with the fitness ball include load on musculoskeletal structures due to:
Workstations should be designed so that workers can carry out their work in a comfortable, upright position with shoulders relaxed and upper arms close to the body.
Desks should be between a height of 710mm - 770mm for a fixed height desk (the preferred worktop height is within the range of 720mm – 740mm) – as per the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4442:2018.
While working at your desk, there should be enough room to complete computing and writing tasks in separate areas. AS/NZS 4442:2018 advises desks should be at least 1600mm width x 600mm depth for mixed task work. There should also be enough room under your desk to move your legs freely.
Sedentary lifestyles have been associated with adverse health outcomes including obesity, systemic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers. Sedentary work includes work involving prolonged sitting and standing. As a result, UNSW advocates a dynamic working environment and encourages staff to:
Sitting OR standing for prolonged periods should be avoided. Prolonged sitting in combination with poor working postures can contribute to an increased risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders. Prolonged standing may lead to sore and/or swollen feet and lower limbs, poor circulation, and leg fatigue. Ensure periods of sitting or standing are broken up by periodic movement throughout the day, preferably 1-2 minutes every 20 to 30 minutes. Taking frequent micro-breaks can also improve your level of comfort, work performance, and reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
Workstations that are fully adjustable in height enable users to easily alternate between sitting and standing. The user should ensure that they build up their standing tolerance and change position frequently to prevent periods of prolonged sitting or standing.
Electric height adjustable sit/stand desks will accommodate the widest range of users. They should have a minimum of 100kg safe working load (which includes the weight of the desktop surface) and ideally, be motor-operated with plug into the wall (not a battery pack which can be more prone to failure) or employ a hydraulic mechanism to enable ease of adjustment.
Sit-stand desk accessories are designed to be used with an existing desk. They may sit directly on or attach to an existing desk and provide a cost-efficient mechanism for alternating between sitting and standing. They are useful with workstations that are pre-configured with adjoining partitions but only permit a small section of the workstation to be used in standing. They can also introduce new ergonomic hazards as they increase the height of a standard desk when used in a sitting position. This may mean that the individual is unable to raise their chair to the appropriate height which can introduce additional body stressing risks. In addition, a footrest may be required to support feet and maintain an appropriate hip position.
Manual free-standing height adjustable sit/stand desks are NOT recommended as they involve repetitive winding or manual lifting.
Setting up your sit-to-stand workstation
Users should aim for the same monitor and keyboard set-up when alternating between sitting and standing. When setting up your sit-stand workstation ensure that you:
Should an individual require an adjustable workstation, they should firstly discuss with their Supervisor/Manager and if required consult with their WHS Business Partner/Coordinator. In some situations, advice may be required from a treating practitioner.
Laptops are not designed to be used for long periods. If you are using a laptop for long periods:
Do you regularly use a laptop for periods of 1hr or more?
Should an individual require an alternative keyboard, they should first discuss with their Supervisor/Manager and if required consult with their WHS Business Partner/Coordinator. In some situations, advice may be required from a treating practitioner.
The mouse should fit the user’s hand and not cause unnecessary pressure on the wrist and forearm muscles. Ensure the mouse is not too large so that the wrist is in a neutral position during use.
Mouse alternatives: Should an individual require an alternative mouse, they should first discuss with their Supervisor/Manager and if required consult with their WHS Business Partner/Coordinator. In some situations, advice may be required from a treating practitioner.
Wrist rests are NOT recommended for use at the computer workstation. Gel wrist rests can cause wrist anchoring. When you rest on your wrists while typing/mousing, you can compress the blood vessels, tendons, and nerves that travel through your wrist. Resting your wrist for too long can potentially cause inflamed tendons and nerve entrapment. Anchoring your wrist can increase the risks of a musculoskeletal disorder like carpal tunnel syndrome. Wrist rests are designed to provide support during pauses, when not typing (such as when reading from the screen).
If you use a telephone frequently and/or frequently write notes or use your computer when on the telephone:
If you read from documents whilst typing, consider using a document holder/stand, located either in line with the keyboard or to the side of the monitor on an angle.
Correct positioning of equipment on the desk can assist in preventing injuries