ES&H Manual



6106 Appendix T1

Office Ergonomics Guidelines



1.0             Purpose


This appendix provides universally applicable suggestions that may be helpful when setting up an ergonomically correct workstation in an office setting. 


2.0             Scope


These guidelines apply to workers who are subject to prolonged repetitive motions, which can cause strain injury; long-term sitting, which can cause leg, back, and upper torso pain; and extended viewing of a computer screen, which can cause eyestrain. This information is provided to assist in choosing and setting up your office workstation in order to mitigate the risk of these types of injury. The guidelines do not replace individualized recommendations available through a formal ergonomic consultation.


This appendix is written in coordination with ES&H Manual Chapter 6106 Ergonomics Program. All applicable content within the chapter applies to the procedure outlined in this appendix.


3.0             Responsibilities

Responsibilities are outlined in ES&H Manual Chapter 6106 Ergonomics Program.


Anyone at Jefferson Lab may request an ergonomic consultation. As a matter of best practice, it is appropriate to request an ergonomic consultation for prevention purposes rather than waiting until an injury occurs.


4.0             Recommendations


4.1              Repetitive Motion (Keyboarding, Mousing Technique, Writing)

Factors to consider when setting up an office workstation include:


4.1.1        Height

At correct height, a keyboard allows your upper and lower arms to be at an approximately ninety-degree angle while keyboarding. Positioning the keyboard in your lap may provide optimum alignment.


4.1.2        Angulation

Your wrists should be in a straight or “neutral” position, or with only a slight tilt up or down. Certain ergonomic keyboard designs attempt to match the plane of the keys to a more natural wrist and hand alignment. Some users also find it beneficial to alter the keyboard angle throughout the day. 


4.1.3        Position

The keyboard should be squarely in front of you. Even a slight misalignment causes stress on the upper body.


4.1.4        Wrist Support

If possible, wrists should be supported while keyboarding. If the workstation is well designed, the keyboard support surface will offer proper wrist support. 


4.2              Long Term Sitting

The single most important piece of office equipment is your chair. Studies show that 25 to 50 percent of workers, who habitually sit in incorrectly fitted or poorly adjusted chairs, suffer from back problems.


4.2.1        Height

The correct height for a chair seat from the floor is when both feet are flat on the floor and thighs and shins are perpendicular.


4.2.2        Depth

A chair should support your thighs to within 2-3 inches of your inner knee surface. 


4.2.3        Adjustability

Minimally, adjustments should include seat and back height, armrest height, tilt tension, and back angle. If more than one person uses a chair, it should be easily adjustable. 


4.2.4        Chair Back

The lower curve of the back (the lumbar area) should be well supported by the chair back. 


4.2.5        Arm Rests

Your arms should be supported slightly while keyboarding. Proper armrests need not be very long horizontally, but their height should be adjustable to swivel outward when they are not needed. 


4.2.6        Stability

Office work chairs should have at least five legs with casters.   


NOTE: Chair mats are recommended for carpeted floors to prevent carpet wear and facilitate chair movement; preventing possible backache from the exertion required to move a chair that is on carpet.


4.3              Extended Viewing (Computer Monitors)

Many individuals who work for extended periods on a computer experience visual stress. Viewing distances and angles used for computer work are often different from those commonly used for other tasks. Following are recommendations to consider when performing computer work for extended periods:


4.3.1        Height

The top of your screen should be at, or slightly below, eye level with your head in a normal, erect position. 


4.3.2        Tilt

Ideally, the screen surface should be tilted slightly upward to eliminate optical distortion.   


4.3.3        Distance

On average, most people place their monitor approximately 18 to 24 inches away from the face. This can be altered based on personal preference and corrective lens requirements.


4.3.4        Brightness, Contrast, and Color

The screen should be sufficiently bright to overcome incidental glare from lighting. Experiment with different contrast and color settings to make best use of the background formats you use most often. 


4.4              Other Considerations


4.4.1        Document Holders

Documents read while keyboarding should not be flat on the desk. If possible, they should be in a near vertical position and on the same focal plane as the screen, avoiding the need to turn your head or change eye focus while keyboarding. 


4.4.2        Corrective Lenses

Uncorrected or improperly corrected vision problems are more likely to cause or exacerbate visual fatigue. The use of corrective lenses should have no effect on your ability to use a monitor so long as the prescription factors in computer use. Lenses recommended for monitor use, in order of preference:


1.      Monofocals: Single-prescription eyewear selected specifically for your type of computer use.


2.      Full-width or flattop bifocals: Different correction for near and far vision. If you are wearing these and must tilt your head back (or into an uncomfortable position), you will need a different type of lens.


3.      Progressive lens: “No-line” lens that corrects vision in a gradual manner from near to distance. Sometimes progressive lenses generally do not provide a sufficiently large zone of correction for the field of view required for computer use. 


5.0             References

·         OSHA Computer Workstations

·         ANSI/HFES 100-2007


6.0             Revision Summary


Periodic Review – 02/21/19 – No changes per TPOC

Revision 2.0  03/13/14 Formerly 6105T2 Office Ergonomics; moved from 6105 Office Safety to 6106 Ergonomics Program; added 5.0 References.

Revision 1.0  12/21/10 Updated to reflect current laboratory operations.










ES&H Division

Smitty Chandler





This document is controlled as an on line file.  It may be printed but the print copy is not a controlled document.  It is the user’s responsibility to ensure that the document is the same revision as the current on line file.  This copy was printed on 2/21/2019.