Workstation Guidelines

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VDT Workstation Guidelines

Computer Guy


  • Place the document holder at the same height as the computer screen.
  • Adjust your chair and work surface to keep your elbows and knees at 90 degree right angles.
  • Adjust the lumbar (lower back) support by moving the back rest up or down to match the natural inward curve of your spine.
  • Place the screen at right angles to any windows or other light sources to prevent glare problems. Pull blinds or lower shades to reduce glare.
  • Chairs with five caster legs are best. Chairs that swivel are also recommended to avoid twisting while seated.
  • Make sure your computer screen is positioned so that the top display is no higher than your eye level. Your eyes should look slightly down at the screen.
  • Add task lighting to light up documents without creating glare and reflection on the screen.
  • Place your mouse pad at the same height as the keyboard and within easy reach.
  • A rounded waterfall front cushion on the chair relieves tension on the back of thighs.
  • Chairs with arm rests can relieve fatigue in the shoulders and arms. Adjust the arm rest to keep elbows close to the body and prevent shoulders from being elevated.
  • Keep the screen clean and free of dust, dirt, and fingerprints which can blur the screen.
  • If your work area is especially bright and reflection is unavoidable, use a glare filter or screen cover.
  • Adjust screen brightness control to "low" and contrast control to "high."
  • Place the phone beside the keyboard or within easy reach. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, invest in a headset.
  • Keep hands and wrists in a neutral (straight) position while on the keyboard. An optional palm rest can be used.
  • Organize your work area by placing commonly used items within a comfortable reach.


Body Posture

Good posture is important when you are sitting several hours a day. Keep your spine and head upright. Shift your position often throughout the day to keep muscles from tensing. Adjust your chair height so your feet are flat on the floor. If they don't rest on the floor, use a footrest.


Vision Care
Arrange to take small breaks every two hours. Uninterrupted VDT work can quickly cause fatigue and actually lowers productivity. During keying pauses, use a palm rest. During longer breaks, remove hands from keyboard and rest them in your lap.
Get regular eye exams if any vision or focus problems persist. Be sure to let your doctor know you regularly work with a VDT.


Workstation Risks
The term "cumulative trauma disorder" usually refers to excessive wear and tear on the muscles, tendons, or nerves of the neck and upper limbs that are caused, precipitated, or aggravated by repeated movements or exertions of the body. The most common risk factors for the development of CTDs for VDT users are:

repetitive work without adequate recovery time (such as continuous keying).

Sustained Static Exertions
prolonged holding of a single posture, such as using a mouse or cradling a telephone.

Localized Contact Stresses
pressure on the soft tissues caused by external surfaces, such as sharp edges on desks and keyboards.

certain prolonged, non-neutral positions may stress tendons, nerves, or other tissues, such as bending wrists upward, downward, or sideways during keying.


CTD Symptoms
Your ergonomics team should review available records for signs of potential work-related cumulative trauma disorders. Specifically, symptoms relating to the following:

  • Swollen feeling of the fingers with no physical evidence of swelling.
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in the fingers or hand.
  • Painful joints, stiffness
  • Pain in the wrists, shoulders, forearms, or knees, back, or neck
  • Weakening of hand grip
  • Burning sensation in the hand and/or arm
  • Changes in sensation and grip strength
  • Fatigue or lack of endurance
  • Lack of control or coordination

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or other health problems that you feel may be work related, report them to your supervisor immediately.