Computer health and safety at work

Workstation health and safety: desks, chairs and posture


A user's workstation furniture should minimise the risk of injuries. Posture also plays a vital role in preventing upper limb disorders.

Desk health and safety

The work desk or work surface should:

  • be big enough to allow the user to arrange the screen, keyboard, documents, etc in a flexible way
  • have a matt surface
  • be big enough to let the user work comfortably and to change position
  • be stable and positioned so that it's comfortable and easy to use where an employee uses a document holder

Office chair health and safety

Workstation chairs should:

  • be stable and allow the user to work comfortably
  • be adjustable in height
  • have a seatback adjustable in height and tilt

Other workstation considerations

Other features of the workstation you should consider include:

  • arm supports must not interfere with movement, eg by stopping the user getting the chair under the work surface
  • seat width should be wider than the hip width of the person using it
  • the back rest should provide support for the back in all sitting positions, particularly the lumbar region.
  • a foot rest may be needed if users are unable to rest their feet flat on the floor
  • the importance of correct and comfortable seating should be emphasised to employees in a risk assessment

Posture when using a computer

Adopting the right posture when working at a computer is very important in order to prevent health problems. You must ensure that employees are aware of good posture and technique, including the importance of:

  • avoiding sitting in the same position for long periods
  • keeping their forearms roughly horizontal, and their eyes at the same height as the top of the display screen equipment
  • ensuring items that are regularly used are within easy reach
  • positioning a mouse or other pointing device close by so they can use it with a relaxed arm and a straight wrist