Customize your computer workplace

Tips and advice for customizing your computer workplace to prevent muscle and skeleton pain.

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Topic page about HSE | Pages labelled with ergonomics

What you can do yourself #

Customizing your computer workplace is important to prevent muscle and skeleton pain. Being conscious about how you use your body, breaks and variations in your work is as important as customizing your workplace.

Chair #

There are different types of office chairs. You should choose your chair according to your personal preferences. If you have a desk with height regulation, you chair should have a "lift" to allow you to work in a "sit-to-stand" position.

  • Start by adjusting the chair height to a point where your feet rest on the floor and your knee joint angle is at a minimum of 90 degrees.
  • Adjust the backrest to provide good support for your lower back.
  • Adjust the seat depth to support approx. 2/3 of your thighs.
  • Adjust or remove the armrests if they are in the way.
  • Use the seat's tilting function actively to vary your sitting position.

Desk #

The height of regular desks can be adjusted at the bottom of each table leg. If you have a desk with electric height adjustment, use the raise/lower button.

  • Use your sitting position as your starting point. Adjust the height of your desk to make sure your forearms rest on the desktop. Your shoulders should be relaxed.
  • Make sure you have plenty of space for your legs, in order to easily change your working position.

Screen #

The screen should have height adjustment. If the screen is placed too high, it can cause strain on the eyes, neck and shoulders.

  • Place the screen directly in front of you to avoid neck inclination. If you use several screens simultaneously, make sure that the screens are placed as close to each other as possible, and at the same height.
  • The distance to the screen (usually 50-90 cm) will vary according to your eyesight.
  • Sitting in a position that allows your neck to be relaxed, you should be looking down at the middle of the screen at a 15–30 degree angle.
  • Slightly tilting the screen backwards should create a good working position for most people.
  • Avoid glare and reflection from lighting fixtures and windows. Daylight should come from your left or right hand side. Curtains or venetian blinds can be used if the recommended screen position is not possible.
  • If you are experiencing problems with your eyesight while working by your computer, computer glasses can be an option.

Keyboard #

The keyboard should be flat to avoid an unfavourable wrist bend. Available keyboards are a standard keyboard with numeric keys on the right or a mini keyboard with reduced width. A mini keyboard could provide a better working position for your arms.

  • Positioning of the keyboard depends on individual writing techniques with a varying degree of forearm support on the desktop.
  • Most people reduce the strain on their neck, shoulders and arms by allowing the desktop or armrests to support their forearms.

Computer mouse #

Regular computer mice are available in several different sizes and shapes. A vertical mouse gives the forearm a different working position compared to a regular mouse. A wireless mouse increases flexibility compared to a wired mouse. Find the mouse best suited to your hand to avoid unnecessary tension in your fingers and wrists.

Alternatives to regular computer mice are the Rollermouse and the Mousetrapper.

Document holder #

A useful help to avoid bending and twisting your neck while working by your computer. To be placed between the keyboard and the screen.

Lighting #

Light is one of the most important factors in obtaining good working conditions. The need for good lighting is different from person to person and will increase with age. Your body will compensate for poor lighting by adapting "bad" working positions. A desktop lamp (preferably with asymmetric light) will provide your work area with more light and ease the strain on your eyes.

Place the lamp in a position that does not cause reflexes from the screen and keyboard.

Read more about "Lightning".

Headset #

A headset will free your hands while combining phone and computer work.

Mobile computer tools #

Because of their screen height, screen size and keyboard, laptops, tablets and smartphones are primarily suited for short-term use. Please note that the use of these tools, also during your spare time, can increase the risk of developing pain in your eyes, neck, shoulders and arms.

You can use a separate keyboard and a laptop stand to improve your working position.

Other tips #

NTNU regulations #

Computer glasses

HSE process

Legislation #

Contact #

If you are unable to find an optimal solution, you can contact the HSE Division's occupational physiotherapists. The occupational physiotherapists can help you accommodate your workplace and provide advice on working positions and prevention of muscle and skeleton pain.

Do the following:

  1. Inform your closest manager that you are contacting an occupational physiotherapist.
  2. Send an e-mail to the occupational physiotherapists. The e-mail should contain information about who you are, the nature of your problem, as well as your phone number and workplace (building, floor and room number). The occupational physiotherapist will contact you within a few days time.

Tina Hagen, Occupational Physiotherapist

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