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.

Refer to the UNSW Preferred Suppliers website for suppliers of ergonomic equipment Ergoport or contact Finance Help 

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:

    • AFRDI 6 certified
    • Easy-to-use control mechanisms
    • 5-point base – to prevent tipping or slipping
    • Castors for carpet; glides or braked castors for hard surfaces
    • Fully adjustable to accommodate different size workers (with seat height, backrest height and backrest tilt adjustments)
    • Padded seat
    • Seat slide mechanism is preferable as it allows different users to adjust accordingly
    • Conform to the lower back curve of the user
    • No arms, or if necessary, arms must be adjustable in height and direction so that they do not prevent you from getting as close to the desk as possible, or swivelling at the desk.

    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:

    • Lack of lower back support, resulting in loss of the initial upright posture over time.
    • Inability to maintain upright postures during reaching and moving.
    • Inadequate seat support for the buttocks and thighs.
    • Inability to adjust the ball to the correct height relative to the desk.
    • Inability to swivel or navigate around the workstation, resulting in twisting of the trunk whilst sitting on the ball.
    • Fall hazards associated with getting on and off or reaching from the ball.
    • High concentration levels and fatigue from sustained exercising.
  • 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:

    • Walk more at work:
      • Avoid sending emails if the recipient is near - walk over and talk to them instead.
      • Have walking meetings.
      • Use stairs instead of elevators.
      • Take a long route to the bathroom or photocopier.
      • Park your car further away from your building.
    • Set a timer to remind you to stand up and stretch every 30 minutes and use this time to do other work activities. 
    • Stand up when using the telephone.

    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:

    1. Determine the standing desk height by relaxing your shoulders and bending your elbows to 90 degrees when hands are on the keyboard. The desk height should be at or slightly below elbow height enabling your forearms to slightly slope down to the keyboard with a maximum 90-95 degree angle.
    2. Adjust the monitor height so that the top of the monitor is at or just below eye level.
    3. Adjust the position of the monitor so it is approximately an arm’s length away – with the upper arms close to the body; wrists straight and hands at or below elbow level.
    4. Position the keyboard and mouse at the same level and close to the body – stand close to the workstation to avoid leaning forward.
      • Alternate or shift weight from leg to leg occasionally, to minimise leg fatigue.
      • Frequently adjust your posture.
      • Take frequent breaks away from the computer.
      • Complete stretching exercises regularly.

    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:

    • place your laptop on an adjustable stand so you can view the screen at eye level or attach to an external monitor
    • attach an external keyboard and mouse.

    Do you regularly use a laptop for periods of 1hr or more?

    • If yes: Do you use a docking station or laptop stand with external monitor, keyboard, and mouse?
    • If no: you will need to purchase the equipment listed above AND complete HS114 Workstation Checklist to make sure your equipment is set up safely.
  • Use:    

    • Place directly in front of the body to avoid twisting the neck or torso.
    • Position yourself in front of the computer monitor with the letters and approximately in line with your navel. This is particularly good positioning when doing a lot of keyboard work.
    • Position yourself so that you can reach the keyboard with your elbows in a neutral position by the side of the body.
    • Arms should be parallel to the floor when fingers are placed gently on the keyboard. The seated elbow height should be a little higher than the height of the keyboard. Raise or lower your chair to achieve this position.
    • The slope of the keyboard should be as close to the flat position as possible. This is largely determined by what feels comfortable; however, a neutral position across the forearms, wrists and hands should be maintained.

    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 operation can alternate from left-handed to right-handed use to minimise strain on one hand.
    • Ensure that the button on the right side of the mouse is always used for primary functions by clicking on start (bottom left side of the screen), selecting mouse and changing button configuration to switch primary and secondary buttons. The mouse may also be customised in this area including double click speed, pointer speed and scrolling.
    • Hold the mouse gently when moving it over the mouse pad or desk.
    • Take the hand off the mouse at frequent intervals.
    • Use keyboard shortcuts where possible.
    • If the task is primarily a mouse activity, move the mouse toward the middle of the desk and push the keyboard back.
    • Position the mouse directly to the right or left-hand side of the keyboard.
    • Line the top of the mouse pad with the top edge of the keyboard as a visual cue to correct placement and always aim to keep the mouse on the mouse pad.
    • Position the mouse to prevent overreaching.

    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).

  • Headsets

    If you use a telephone frequently and/or frequently write notes or use your computer when on the telephone:

    • consider using a headset to prevent awkward neck postures
    • position the telephone on your non-dominant side within easy reach. If the telephone is used rarely, it does not need to be positioned close.
    Document holders

    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

    • Place frequently used items within easy reach
    • The monitor and the alphabetical section of the keyboard should be centred in front of the body
    • Position the mouse to prevent overreaching
    • Centre the chair