What is the correct way to sit at a workstation?

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My day starts at 6.30am with a swim followed by breakfast and a read of the Times, arriving at the office around 07.45 ready to answer the daily stream of emails. I have to say that in the last 18 months there seems to be a consistent trend as many of the emails I receive from clients and those seeking advice relate to workstation safety. Questions raised range from “my back/neck hurts, is it workstation related to how do I know if I am sitting properly or the old chestnut question, can I be contaminated by radiation when using my computer?

Incidentally the answer to the last one is definitely no.

Well for the majority, sitting at and using a computer for most of the day is now considered to be the norm. Now don’t misinterpret what I am about to say but yes this can be very hazardous. How?

YOUR POSTURE IS KEY TO AVOIDING PAINS AND ACHES

Well, let’s start with posture. As this is still conspicuous by its absence on the educational curriculum, nobody actually seems to know how to sit at a workstation, unless of course as a child you had piano, ballet or horse ridding lessons or for some it was Grandma who yelled at you to sit up straight when ate your meals. If you fall in to this category of user then you will definitely know how to sit and adopt suitable posture at the workstation.

But for us lesser mortals it seems to be trial and error, although most users seem to give up after just adjusting the seat height control and pay no attention the remaining multitude of seat settings and controls that most definitely contribute to a comfortable and happy seating experience. What many employers and employees are unaware of is that your workstation safety is covered by the The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 which implemented will cover all aspects of workstation safety so as to ensure that as far as reasonably practicable no harm occurs.

Ironically and in my experience if you want to know how the remaining seat controls work, just remove the instruction tag still swinging from the underside of your chair since it was purchased. Common sense I hear you say, well not always, after all we are just human and fallible.

Posture is important, if you get it right you will be comfortable and avoid any injury, get it wrong and you are encouraging lower back problems to develop and will lead to a life of pain and discomfort. (yes that’s me, abused my back as a young adult and now paying the price) so allow me to share some safety tips with you.

FIND YOUR ‘SEAT SETTING COMFORT ZONE’

Regardless as to whether you use a shared pod/hotdesk system or have your own dedicated workstation, always play with all and I mean all the seat settings and find your comfort zone. Ideally feet flat on floor, and yes ladies please do try to stop crossing your legs all day, it plays havoc with blood flow to your lower legs and feet and before you ask, yes that might also be the reason your feet seem to be cold!

So whilst on the subject get rid of that domestic convector fan heater, it will most likely give you varicose veins and is also a fire hazard. You do not want hot air blowing on your feet and lower leg. If you need supplementary heating you can use an oil filled electric radiator, much safer and they have integral timers so not left on over night and no setting fire to the office! Other areas of your environment are also covered by The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

ALIGN YOURSELF WITH THE SCREEN

DSETop of screen in line with your eyebrows and please develop an L shape on your upper and lower arm as this is a neutral position and will minimise wear and tear to you vital limbs. Just glance at the following diagram to see where I am taking you. In any event not only is this covered by The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 but also the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Here at Winter & Company we Assess workstation users on a daily basis and have the qualifications, experience and understanding in matters of workstation safety to make you more comfortable and prevent workstation injuries such as Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) and Work Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULDS).

If you would like to undertake your Organisations Workstation Risk Assessments, come and join us at our one-day Display Screen Equipment Risk Assessment training programme and you too can carry out workstation risk assessments. Click here to book a place at a time and date to suit you.

Alternatively just call Christine on 020 7353 4999 ext 224 and we will do the rest.

Don’t have time?

Well if you prefer, we will undertake Workstation Risk Assessments on your behalf. All you have to do is call Eve Horgan on 020 7353 4999 ext 221 for a highly competitive quote.

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Comments

  1. Chris May 17, 2011 4:35 pm

    I am amazed at how many individuals I assess do not know how to adjust their chair. I met someone the other day who, when I asked “let’s change the seat height”, they said, “Oh I didn’t know you could change that”!

    Simple changes make a big difference.

    • Mitchell W May 27, 2011 2:49 pm

      Welcome to my world Chris.

      Tell him/her usually first lever on the right hand side just below the seat Failing which left hand side!!!

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