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Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety

Ergonomic Considerations for Office Furniture



Ergonomics is fitting the workspace and equipment to the user. A workspace with proper ergonomic design will allow users to easily vary their positions and work comfortably throughout the day. Below are minimum requirements for office furnishings to ensure the range of adjustment necessary to meet the needs of a wide range of users. In some instances, exceptional users may require special accommodation beyond these standards to achieve a proper ergonomic fit.

Desk Task Chair

The seat pan and the lumbar support must be adjustable for height and depth. If armrests are included, they must be adjustable for height and width. The chair back must lock upright or even better with a slight (approximately 5 degrees) slope. The chair must swivel, and roll easily on the floor with a minimum of five castors. The chair height adjustment must be pneumatic rather than screw-type. All adjustments must be accessible from the seated position. The chair upholstery must breathe, and support the user without creating pressure points.

Additional features that promote user comfort include a tilting seat pan with a sloping or “waterfall front” to relieve pressure on the backs of the legs. An adjustable angle of slope on the chair back promotes proper use of the backrest and prevents the user from sliding forward.

Raised Bench or Counter Work Chair

Due to the increased height, chairs for raised bench or counter use must include integral foot rests in addition to the chair requirements above. Castors are often preferred, but not required. If frequent standing is likely, provide an anti-fatigue mat on hard flooring surfaces. For counterwork, consider the depth of the counter and the amount of reach required to conduct business.

Keyboard Tray

The keyboard tray must be stable and hold both the keyboard and pointing device (mouse) adjacent to each other at the same height. The tray must easily adjust for height and tilt. Tray mounting systems that require reaching under or behind the tray to tighten or loosen a knob are not easily adjustable. The tray installation should allow movement of the tray out of the way to provide close access to the desk.

Computer Monitor

The monitor must fit directly in front of the user with the screen approximately 30 inches from the user and the top of the monitor about eye level. Users with bifocal or progressive lens eyewear may benefit from placing the monitor even lower. This spacing is typically not a problem with the newer flat screen monitors, but is often a problem with large CRT monitors.


The desk must allow placement of frequently used equipment within the users’ reach without having to stretch. This is simple for a user with a single computer, but complicated for users with multiple computers, other office machines, large phones, or frequent use of bound materials. At the computer keyboard and monitor location, curved corners in desks are typically best, ninety degree corners the worse, and diagonal corners a middle compromise.

Copy Holder/Stand

If a copy stand or holder is used, place it adjacent to and at the same height as the monitor.