A Checklist for Starting a New Job – Top Tips on Office Ergonomics


Starting a new job, and want to get off to a good start? Or perhaps you've been working in an office based job for a while now and you're trying to find ways to solve that niggling back pain? Ensuring you're sitting in the right position at work is something you might not think about until it starts causing you grief. Adopting the right practises can help manage the pain, or can stop it happening in the first place.

A Checklist for Starting a New Job – Top Tips on Office Ergonomics

Not sitting correctly can cause a number of work related injuries, it can harm your posture and even lead to suffering from conditions such as repetitive strain injury (RSI). Your employer has a duty under the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations to make sure that you're properly equipped and have enough rest breaks to reduce these risks. But, if you want to find out what good practices you can use, we've devised a checklist so you can set your sitting position straight.

Keep your feet on the floor

The height of the chair should be adjusted so that your feet rest comfortably on the floor, you might need to request a foot rest if this isn't possible. Sit with both feet on the ground, as crossing your legs can lead to problems with posture and back pain.

Adjust your chair for support

Your chair and desk height need to be arranged so your forearms can rest parallel with the floor. This prevents any undue strain on your arms.

If you are able to, adjust the depth of the seat so that the back of your knees aren't pressing against the edge of the chair. You might also need to move it if the gap between your knees and the edge is too great as you could be losing support here.

Unison's DSE guide looks at the importance of back support. Try to adjust the backrest of the chair so that the bit that curves and sticks out fits into the small of your back (where your back curves in). This is different for everyone so it's best if your chair not only moves in a reclining motion, but can be moved higher or lower to get the right spot. If your chair doesn't allow this you should ask your employer to help resolve the issue. You can get supports that attach to your chair to achieve this.

Desk organisation

The NHS website recommends that you should keep your mouse close to you, and your keyboard should be placed so a 4-6 inch gap is left between the front of the desk and the keyboard. They recommend that your elbows should be vertical, close to your side, and your wrists need to be straight when typing.

Your computer monitor also needs to be at comfortable eye level. If it's too low you're likely to find yourself hunching whilst using it. Often people use monitor stands to help with this.

Moving Around and Taking Breaks

Under the DSE Regulations, it's required that employers plan work activities so that employees working at desks and computers can have the day broken up by other work activities or short breaks to minimise harm.

The Health and Safety Executive recommend that short breaks often are more effective than less frequent longer breaks. For example, a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes of work is better than 15 minutes every 2 hours.

Speak to Your Employer

If your working environment doesn't have everything you need to work safely, don't be afraid to ask for any adjustments that you need. For example, back supports that fit on chairs, a stand to raise your computer screen, or supports for your feet to rest in a higher position.

Remember, your employer is responsible for making sure that you stay safe at work. If you suffer an injury, you could hold your employer to account for the harm you've suffered. Making sure you're in the right position is a vital part of health and safety at work, and should not be forgotten or taken lightly.

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