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These guidelines provide a brief account of the most important considerations for safe and effective use of workstation equipment.

Faculty and other heads should ensure that supervisors and users of workstation equipment are aware of these guidelines as they form part of the University Prevention Program for occupational overuse syndrome (OOS) injuries. Although the guidelines are closely related to screen-based equipment users, the ergonomic principles are a sound basis to apply to many tasks across the University.  For example, maintenance work conducted in a workshop areas or laboratory staff or users of other scientific equipment may be guided by these principles in the layout and organisation of their work. 

The key consideration of room/area layouts and workstation design is what is known as human factors and ergonomics.  Human factors and ergonomics is a term used to describe the consideration of how humans interact with work areas, systems and equipment, including the layout of an office, workshop, laboratory, work area or workstation.  This means considering designs that fit the user of the workspace and the equipment and applies to all workspaces, not just office work areas.  For example, having desks that adjust to suit a range users with different heights and body profiles or providing chairs that provide adjustable seat pans and back rests that properly support the legs and back.

Many issues experienced world-wide regarding workstations and work areas, such as eye strain, musculo-skeletal disorders and other health problems, are due to lack of consideration of ergonomics either in the design of the work area and equipment, or the use of it.  Ergonomic principles need to be considered in the procurement and design phases of any product or space and includes five main elements1

  • The characteristics of the user – physical dimensions, psychological and behavioural capacities, skills, knowledge and abilities all have an impact on how the product or space is used.
  • Job and task characteristics – what the user of the product or space is required to do or actually performs, including task and time demands, capacity to make decisions, work organisation and time requirements.
  • Work Environment – where the work takes place itself in terms of space and layout, lighting, noise and thermal comfort.
  • Equipment design and the interface provided to the user – this includes the hardware and tools to perform the work such as electronic or mobile equipment, protective clothing and furniture.
  • Work organisation – how work is scheduled, differences in work load, industry practices and the need to communicate and interact with others.

 

These guidelines were produced to assist management and staff control hazards that may lead to injury in the screen based environment. Please contact your WHS Consultant in the Work Health and Safety Unit if you require assistance in implementing these guidelines.

Office Ergonomics and Occupational Health

from The Ergonomics Unit - Worksafe Australia

Ergonomists aim to provide working conditions which are well above the minimum required to ensure the health and safety of the workforce. Thus, in achieving a comfortable, productive and satisfying office environment, any musculo-skeletal complaints would be minimised. To design such an environment, it is necessary to consider not only furniture and equipment but also the job designs, lighting, noise, air quality, office landscaping and personal space.

note: The terms screen based equipment and visual display unit are used synonymously throughout this document.

1 Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) 2006, ‘Guidance on the Principles of Safe Design for Work’, p. 6, ASCC, accessed from SafeWork Australia, 15 April 2016.