This checklist can be used to evaluate your working conditions. If you answer "yes" to each question, then your office and job are well designed. If you answer "no" to any question, steps should be taken to correct situations which may increase the risk of developing repetitive strain injuries (RSIs).
POSTURE (when working at the computer)
Are your feet resting firmly on the floor or footrest?
Are your knees bent at approximately right angles?
Are your thighs parallel to the floor, so that the chair does not put pressure on the backs of your thighs?
Is your upper body straight, with your lower back firmly supported by the chair backrest?
Are your upper arms hanging straight down at your sides?
Are your elbows against your sides and bent at right angles?
Are your forearms parallel to the floor?
Are your wrists straight, neither bent up nor down nor to the left or right?
Is your head looking forward, with only a slight downward tilt?
To achieve correct posture, the chair and table heights must both be adjusted to fit the user. If you are choosing new furniture, start with the chair. The seat height should be adjusted so your feet rest on the floor (or a footrest), your knees are bent at right angles, and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Sitting in the chair, place your arms as described above. Your hands will be in the position they should be when the keyboard height is adjusted.
Is your chair easily adjustable for seat height?
Can you easily adjust the chair backrest up and down?
Can you easily adjust the chair backrest forward and back?
Does the backrest firmly support your lower back?
Does the chair have casters that roll easily on the floor?
Is the front edge of the seatpan rounded to avoid pressure on the backs of your thighs?
Does the chair swivel?
Is the chair base steady, with five legs?
If your chair is adjustable, do you know how to adjust it?
If you need one, do you have a footrest that supports you feet fully?
Note: Chair armrests are optional, if they can be adjusted to support the arms in the position described above. If armrests interfere with the correct position of the arms, they should removed.
DESK AND TABLE
Is the height of the desk or table on which the computer sits adjustable?
Is there enough room for your legs to comfortably fit under the desk or table?
Is there enough space on the desk or table for the computer screen and all the other things you need to do your job comfortably (copy stand, desk lamp, telephone, etc.)?
Is the keyboard detached from the screen?
Is the keyboard at the right height so that your elbows are at your sides, your forearms are parallel to the floor, and your wrists are straight?
Does the desk or table have a special stand (such as a slide-out tray or attached stand) for the keyboard to rest on so that the keyboard is lower than normal desk or table height?
Is the keyboard thin and not angled up too sharply?
Is the keyboard placed on a foam pad to soften the impact of your fingers on the keys?
Are the springs in the keys stiff enough to resist the weight of your fingers when relaxed?
Can you feel key pressure decrease when the key has registered or can you hear a click when a key has registered to stop you from pressing too hard?
Can your fingers reach the shift and function keys without awkward straining?
Is a copy stand available, if needed?
Are the copy stand and the computer screen positioned at about the same distance from the eyes? (This allows the eyes to stay focused at the same distance. Frequent refocusing is fatiguing.)
If a wrist rest is used, is it in a position that allows your wrist to float freely above the keyboard while typing?
If a wrist rest is used, is it used just while resting, not while typing?
Is a footrest available, if needed?
Less light is needed for conputer work than for other kinds of office tasks. No windows or light sources should be in front of or behind the computer operator, in order to reduce glare. Overhead lighting should be indirect.
Can you see reflections of windows or lights on the computer screen?*
Is there a bright light source directly overhead?*
*A yes response to the questions with asterisks is undesirable, because these conditions contribute to eyestrain.
Do that walls have a non-glossy finish?
Are desk lamps available to illuminate your work area when room light is too low for reading documents?
Are your reading glasses the correct prescription for computer work?
Is the screen placed arm's-length from your face?
Is the image on the screen sharp, not blurry?
Does the image not flicker?
Is the data on the screen big enough to be easily read?
Adjustable furniture and equipment are not sufficient to prevent all repetitive strain injuries. Other aspects of the job have also been shown to cause RSIs.
Does your job include a variety of duties on and off the computer?
Is there a quota that you must meet (such as a certain number of keystrokes per hour or a certain number of calls per hour)?*
If yes, are you able to meet your quota without experiencing headaches, extreme fatigue, pain or numbness in your neck, shoulders, arms, hands?
Is your work electronically monitored?*
If yes, is the information used to pressure you to work faster?*
If yes, does the computer collect personal information?*
Does your supervisor listen in when you are on the telephone?*
*Yes answers here are not desirable because they may increase your risk of developing RSIs.
Breaks are important for relieving stress on the muscles, before they become too tired.
Do you have at least 15 minutes break time after 2 consecutive hours of intensive computer work?
Can you get up and move around whenever you feel any discomfort or pain?
Do you do any stretching exercises during the day to relieve stress and reduce muscle fatigue?
Have you had training on:
The hazards of computer work?
Proper work station design?
Good posture(s) for computer work?
The need for appropriate reading glasses for computer work?
How to adjust your chair?
How to adjust your computer screen?
Physical exercises to reduce muscle tension and fatigue?
Adapted from a factsheet prepared by the Communications Workers of America, District One, 1997