Workstation furniture

General advice

  • Desk measurements
    • Fixed height desks should ideally be between 700 to 740 mm.  If you are small you may need a footrest.
    • Desktop dimensions should accommodate all desktop equipment. A minimum depth of 700 mm is the recommended to ensure monitor positioning for visual comfort.
    • The desk thickness should be no more than 40 mm. There should not be any fixed structure under the desk that may encroach into the leg room(eg a frame, bar or drawer).
  • Height adjustable units placed on top of a desk or table
    • Height adjustable desktop units do not always have sufficient in built height range for taller users to stand at.
    • Manually height adjustable desk units should be avoided as adjusting them can involve awkward postures and exertion of force.
    • Electric height adjustable units should have sufficient desktop dimensions to accommodate all equipment.
  • Chair features

    The key point is to select a task chair which fits and supports you and has the following features:

    • Sufficient seat depth to provide support for the thighs
    • Easily adjustable
    • Lockable supportive backrest (not free floating)
    • Swivel and castors (see advice below regarding floor surfaces)
  • Floor surfaces and chair casters

    If using a task chair fitted with nylon/plastic castors, it is important to make sure the floor surface offers the right level of castor rolling resistance when sitting.

    Nylon castors are designed to be used on low profile, commercial grade carpet which offers a moderate level of rolling resistance. This means the chair will remain relatively still.

    Nylon castors used on hardwood timbers, concrete and tiled surfaces often cause low resistance to a chair rolling. Low resistance means the chair is more likely to roll freely. This can lead to the prolonged use of postural muscles (particularly abdomen, back and legs muscles) which can be fatiguing.

    Nylon castors used on a thick profile wool often cause high resistance to a chair rolling. High resistance means the chair will be difficult to move.

    A firm mat with tapered flat edges can be used to address the issues associate with both low and high rolling resistance. For example a polypropylene carpet tile (1000 x 1000mm) may be purchased to ensure correct resistance.

Sit stand workstation

  • Optimal standing guidance
    • Ensure that there is sufficient toe clearance to enable standing close to the workstation/counter and reduce the potential for leaning forward while working. 100mm of clear depth and 100mm of vertical height is recommended. Nothing should intrude into the thigh space e.g. protruding drawer handles
    • Organise work to minimize twisting and reaching- move the feet, step lunge to reach
    • For hard surfaces anti-fatigue matting should be supplied with a sloped or beveled edge to eliminate the risk of tripping. When installing anti-fatigue matting, consider the application/environment in which it will be used including requirements such as chemical spill resistance, oil resistance, heat resistance, etc.
    • A stand-alone flat footrest can be useful where prolonged standing is required. Dimensions 120-160mm in height with a surface large enough to accommodate the length of the foot (200mm x 200mm approximately). Alternating elevating one foot at a time helps maintain the neutral spine (lordosis) in the lower back and combats fatigue
    • Stand with the feet ‘shoulder’ width apart and with a very slight bend at the knees. This encourages more even distribution of weight over the entire surface of the soles. Locking your legs straight forces your body weight through your heels and loads the back muscles.
    • Select well- fitting comfortable shoes with a firm heel grip, arch support and cushioned insole- particularly if walking or standing on concrete/timber or metal floors.
    • Do calf raises to increase circulation to the lower legs. Take advantage of any pauses in work to do some gentle stretching
  • Optimal work heights when standing

    Different work activities require different work heights. The following is a guideline however due to the considerable variation in worker body dimensions, fixed dimension workstation heights will never accommodate all users and wherever possible building in height adjustability is recommended

    • Precision work, such as fine assembly, writing, repairing small items, restoring artwork where elbow support is needed: approximately at or just above elbow height.
    • Light work such as keyboard work, mail sorting, administrative counter work, library service desk lending: approximately 50-80mm below elbow height.
    • Heavy work involving application of force downwards or handling /using bulky items e.g handling animals, maintenance workshops, packing boxes, pipetting, operating bench top laboratory equipment: approximately 150-300mm below elbow height.

Safety Bulletin: Sit/stand desktop units was published in August 2017.

If purchasing furniture for home environment use, see the Purchasing page for guidance.