Setting Up Your Workstation

Always check your working position when using a computer. To avoid unnecessary discomfort, make sure the following key principles are in place.

Neutral Neck Position

  • When looking at your work, your neck should be in a neutral, relaxed position. Place the monitor directly in front of you to avoid turning your neck to the side.
  • The monitor should be positioned so that you do not have to bend your neck up or down to see the screen. The top of the screen should be approximately two to three inches below eye level while you are seated.
  • The monitor should be positioned from 20 to 30 inches away from you (slightly more than an arm’s length). Adjust as needed for your visual comfort.
  • If you must use a telephone simultaneously with the computer, use a headset. Never try to hold the handset between your shoulder and ear. If you do use a telephone handset, position the telephone close to you to avoid overreaching.

Supported Spine

  • Your feet should be positioned flat on the floor or on a footrest if necessary.
  • Your chair should provide you with good back support. Maximize the contact of your back with the chair back with the use of adjustments or cushions as needed.
  • It is often useful to have armrests. However, they should be adjustable in height and width to allow for resting the arms with your shoulders in a relaxed position.
  • The seat depth should be sufficient to provide support under your thighs. There should be approximately a two-finger-width space between the edge of the chair and the back of your knees.

Arm/Hand Positions

Keyboard and pointing devices should be positioned at a height to allow for a slightly open elbow angle. Elbows should be at a 100- to 110-degree angle. If you cannot adjust your keyboard height, raise your chair and use a footrest, or elevate your table on blocks as necessary.

If you sit in an upright position, your keyboard should be placed in a slight negative tilt so that the wrists can be placed at a neutral position. Your hands should be slightly lower than your elbows with your fingers pointing toward the floor. (Note: If you recline back in your chair, you might not need to tilt the keyboard. Check the alignment of your wrist, and then set the angle of the keyboard as needed. Your sitting posture will affect how you adjust your keyboard and pointing device.)

  • If you use a keyboard tray, it should be wide enough for your pointing device.
  • If you use a wrist rest, use it to support your palms only when pausing between keying.
  • Do not place your wrists on the rest and turn your wrists from side to side to key. This increases the strain on your wrist.
  • Your pointing device should be positioned within easy reach. Overreaching can result in shoulder and/or arm discomfort.