Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as carpal tunnel can create serious health problems for employees who work all day on a computer. Risk factors include repetition (the daily, lengthy use of a keyboard and mouse or trackpad) and awkward postures (extending arms to type, hunching shoulders, and/or sitting for long periods). A properly designed and arranged computer workstation can go a long way toward preventing MSD.
To help evaluate the safety and comfort of your workstations, OSHA has developed this checklist:
Working Postures. Are your workstations designed or arranged so that they allow the user’s:
- head and neck to be upright, or in-line with the torso
- head, neck, and trunk to face forward
- trunk to be perpendicular to floor (might lean back into backrest. but not forward)?
- shoulders and upper arms to be in line with the torso, about perpendicular to the floor and relaxed
- upper arms and elbows to be close to the body
- Forearms, wrists, and hands to be straight and in line (forearm at about 90o to the upper arm)?
- wrists and hands to be straight
- highs to be parallel to the floor and the lower legs to be perpendicular to floor (thighs may be slightly elevated above knees)
- feet rest flat on the floor or are supported by a stable footrest?
Seating. Is the chair designed so that the:
- backrest provides support for the lower back (lumbar area)
- seat width and depth accommodate the specific user
- seat front does not press against the back of knees and lower legs
- seat has cushioning and is rounded with a “waterfall” front
- Armrests support both forearms and do not interfere with movement?
Keyboard/Input Device. Is the keyboard/input device designed or arranged so that
- the device platform is stable and large enough to hold a keyboard and an input device
- the input device (mouse or trackball) is next to keyboard so it can be operated without reaching
- the input device is easy to activate and the shape/size fits hand
- wrists and hands do not rest on sharp or hard edges?
Monitor. Is the monitor designed or arranged so that:
- the top of the screen is at or below eye level so users can read it without bending the head or neck down/back?
- users with bifocals/trifocals can read the screen without bending the head or neck backward?
- the monitor distance allows user to read the screen without leaning head, neck or trunk forward or backward
- the monitor is directly in front of user, so that he or she doesn’t have to twist their head or neck
- the screen does not reflect glare from windows or lights, which can cause the user to assume an awkward posture so they can see information on the screen clearly?