Office Workstations

Prolonged work at a desk or computer, and poor work station set-up are hazards that, in some circumstances, can aggravate or lead to work-related injuries or diseases, particularly of the neck, back and upper limbs.

The risk of overload of musculo-skeletal structures associated with office workstation use can be effectively managed by setting up your workstation correctly, maintaining a neutral posture and ensuring that you alternate positions periodically.

UNSW adopts a tiered approach to managing risks related to the use of office workstations: 

Prevention

UNSW’s self-management strategies are designed to provide all staff with the capability to identify, understand and manage risks related to the use of office workstations in an efficient and effective manner. This enables staff to pro-actively manage related risks wherever they are working, including when they move workstations or work from locations other than their usual office.

A number of tools are available, which should provide employees with the capability to adjust their workstation, posture and work practices and to order basic office equipment. All staff are required to:

  • complete the online Ergonomics and Manual Tasks Training (mandatory and a requirement of staff induction). This is further supported by  HS705: Guide to Your Computer Workstation which provides information about workstation set-up, appropriate work posture and pause exercises.
  • complete the workstation self-assessment checklist: HS114 Workstation Checklist, including making appropriate adjustments and ordering basic equipment (mandatory and a requirement of staff induction). Use of a buddy to assist with this may be useful.
  • take appropriate Rest Breaks and change position periodically (installation of rest-break reminder software may assist)

Managers are responsible for ensuring staff completion of the above controls within their areas of responsibility.

Problems

Non-work-related health conditions

Staff experiencing problems related to a disability should discuss with their manager and refer to the Reasonable Adjustment information. See also Funding for Workers with Disabilities or Special Needs.

Work-related health conditions

If a member of staff is experiencing physical symptoms that are work-related, escalating and/ or not alleviated by completion of the measures above, they should discuss with their manager and:

  • Report and investigate the incident If an individual has sustained an injury or illness that was caused or substantially aggravated by work activities at UNSW, they should complete an incident report in myUNSW. This will help to understand what problems the person is currently experiencing, how this is impacting on them and how to solve the problem. The responsible person (usually the employee’s manager) should investigate in consultation with the individual to understand and identify the contributory factors (which may be related to posture, workstation set up and/or work practices) and related actions to resolve the problem. These actions should be recorded in myUNSW and tracked to completion. HS705 Guide to your Computer Workstation and HS114 Workstation Checklist provide useful information which might assist. Managers should monitor appropriately to ensure that the problem has resolved.
  • Further assistance Allow a reasonable period of time for the adjustments from the self-management strategies above to take effect. If an individual is still experiencing problems after this time, the employee and the responsible manager should then discuss further with the central H&S team to determine appropriate solutions. The manager and employee will be expected to provide evidence that they have taken appropriate measures to resolve the problem themselves, including completing the self-management strategies mentioned above.

Note that the cost of further intervention or equipment is covered by the Business Unit.

Ergonomic Equipment

Assessment of workstations and other hazardous manual tasks may result in the need to purchase ergonomic equipment. For further information, see:

                               Setting up your Workstation Video