OSHA Compliance for Computer Workstations

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), every employer is responsible for keeping workers safe in a hazard-free environment. Although OSHA doesn't have any specific requirements for computer workstations, they can nevertheless provide risks, especially if they're not ergonomic. For employee safety, OSHA specifies the ideal workstation environments, components, and working positions.

Working Positions

As the main workstation hazard is an ergonomic one, it's crucial to posture your body neutrally in order to have a decent working position. The chance of developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) is decreased because the joints are naturally aligned and the strain on the muscles, tendons, and skeletal system is decreased in the neutral position. The following body positions are recommended for maintaining excellent posture at a computer workstation:

  • Hands, wrists, and forearms are straight and roughly parallel to the floor.
  • Head is forward facing, balanced, and generally in-line with the torso.
  • Shoulders are relaxed, and upper arms hang at the side of the body.
  • Elbows remain close to the body and are bent between 90 degrees and 120 degrees.
  • Feet are fully supported by the floor or a footrest.
  • Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support.
  • Thighs and hips are supported and generally parallel to the floor.
  • Knees are about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward.

No matter where you work, sitting for extended periods of time is bad for you. You should make little modifications to your position throughout the day. For instance, you can move your chair slightly, extend your upper body, get up and take a quick stroll, or carry out some of your tasks—like reading or making a phone call—while standing.

Workstation Components

You may work securely and pleasantly by maintaining a neutral body position with the help of the right workstation components. OSHA provides a summary on how to choose and set up particular workplace components.

Consider your workstation as you read through each point and see if you can identify areas for improvement in posture, component placement, or work environment. This provides suggestions to minimize or eliminate identified problems, and allows you to create your own "custom-fit" computer workstation.

  • Chairs should have a good design and be adjusted correctly. Your chair should support your back, legs, buttocks, and arms while minimizing exposure to uncomfortable postures.
  • Leg room should be sufficient, and desks should permit the right positioning of computer parts. The desk should reduce uncomfortable stances and strains.
  • Holders for documents keep things close to hand and should be positioned properly to minimize or completely eliminate difficult head and neck postures, weariness, headaches, and eye strain.
  • In order to lessen exposure to uncomfortable positions, repetition, and contact stress, keyboards should be chosen and placed carefully.
  • To lessen jarring movements, difficult postures, and glare, monitors should be carefully chosen and positioned below or at the eye level.
  • Telephones increase the comfort of a workstation, yet the cords may force the user to adopt unnatural positions.
  • When using a computer mouse, wrist/palm supports can help maintain neutral wrist angles and lessen muscle activation.

Workstation Environment

Risk factors like eye strain and headaches can be decreased with the right working environment. The workspace's lighting, glare, and ventilation should all be correctly setup.


Lighting is the primary risk in a workplace setting. Images on a display screen might be washed away by bright lights, which also makes it harder to see your works. This may cause eye tiredness to develop fast. This risk's potential remedies include:

  • Set up light rows parallel to your line of vision.
  • Diffusers should be available so that desk tasks can be completed with only a little amount of direct computer screen brightness.
  • To lessen brightness in a 4-bulb fluorescent light fixture, take off the middle bulb.
  • Add extra desk lighting, and turn down the brightness near the monitors.

Bright light sources behind a display panel have the potential to cause contrast issues and make it difficult to view the screen, which is another possible lighting hazard. To prevent this, use window coverings like blinds or curtains, shielding lighting, or reposition the workstation so that bright lights are not directly behind the computer screen.

The extreme contrast between light and dark portions of the work surface, the computer screen, and the surroundings is a final lighting risk that can result in headaches and eye fatigue. Use light hues and finishes on the walls and ceilings to lessen contrast and improve indirect lighting reflection. Utilizing a well-distributed diffuse light for work is an alternative method. This results in softer contrasts and fewer reflective surfaces.


Direct light from windows or overhead lights that reflects light on a monitor makes it difficult to see images and causes eye tiredness, which is a potential workstation danger from glare. Here are some potential remedies:

  • Unless the vents are made to deflect the air flow from that location, avoid placing desks or other office furniture directly under air conditioning vents.
  • Diffusers can be used to mix and reroute ventilation airflows.
  • Maintain a relative humidity range of 30% to 60%.
  • The suggested interior temperatures for the heating season are between 68° and 74° F (20° and 23.5° C) and between 73° and 78° F (23° and 26° C) for the cooling season.

Exposure to chemicals, volatile organic compounds, ozone, and particles from computers and other devices can all lead to health issues, which is another ventilation risk. To prevent this, find out if a computer has the ability to produce pollutants, and those that do need to be located in regions with good ventilation. Keeping ventilation in check to ensure there is a sufficient flow of fresh air is another option, as is enabling new equipment to "air out" in a well-ventilated location before it is installed.

The General Duty Clause mandates that employers have a general duty to maintain their employees safe in a hazard-free workplace even if OSHA does not have particular criteria for computer workstations. It is possible to make sure that employees are as safe as possible and that employers are not held liable by adhering to OSHA's recommendations for computer workstations.


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