Setting Up Your Workstation

Here are some general guidelines to adjusting your workstation in order to achieve a neutral posture while working. Of course, no two bodies are identical and different styles, models, and sizes of furniture and accessories may be needed. The best results are achieved when the individual is involved in the selection and adjustment process.


Desired features for computer task chairs include:

  • pneumatic seat height adjustability
  • 360 degree  swivel
  • back height/lumbar support adjustability
  • seat depth adjustability (either by moving the back of the chair or by moving the seat pan).
  • Tilt is not necessarily recommended, and, if a chair has tilt, it should also be equipped with tilt lock.
  • Armrests are not recommended for computer use. If a chair is equipped with arms, they should be adjusted to their lowest point.

Users should be able to sit such that their feet are flat on the floor (or a footstool, if necessary), knees are approximately 90 degrees and the back of the chair is in use.


  • Users should be able to place their hands on the keyboard or mouse with their neck and shoulders relaxed, their upper arms at their sides, their elbows at or slightly larger than 90 degrees and wrists straight.
  • If a keyboard or mouse is too high when placed on the desk surface, users can employ a height- and tilt-adjustable keyboard tray. Keyboard trays should be large enough to accommodate the keyboard and mouse on the same level. If a keyboard tray is not practical or desired, users may be able to raise the height of the chair and use a footstool.

    Arm and keyboard diagram

  • In order to keep wrists in a neutral posture, keyboard legs should be folded up and keyboard trays can be adjusted to a slightly negative angle (away from the user).


  • Monitors should be placed at a distance such that the user can focus on the screen while still using the back of the chair and keep their arms parallel to their upper body. This may be anywhere between 18 and 30 inches.
  • Monitor height should be adjusted such that the user’s eyes are level with the top of the screen. This may need to be adjusted with the use of corrective glasses, as multi-lens glasses can impact how a user holds their neck posture.
  • Computer users who use two monitor screens must assess how both monitors are used:
    • If both monitors are used equally, the monitors should be placed together, directly in front of the user.
    • If one monitor is used primarily and another is used only occasionally, the primary monitor should be placed directly in front of the user with the secondary monitor immediately to the side. In either situation, both monitors should be adjusted to the same height.

      Workstation Setup

Laptop Computers

Laptop computers and tablets do not have the adjustability of a desktop computer when adjusting keyboard, mouse and monitor. For long term use of laptops, a docking station, port replicator or external keyboard and monitor are recommended.


  • Telephone headsets: If your job requires you to frequently use the telephone and the computer at the same time, a telephone headset may be recommended. Contact the University Telephone Office to find telephone headsets compatible with University telephones
  • Input devices: There are a number of alternatives to the standard mouse input device. Since there are many varied work types, work spaces and operator issues, there is no single alternative device which is recommended. Contact EHS with questions about specific input devices.
  • “Ergonomic” or “Natural” keyboards: There are a variety of keyboard types available for use. However, research shows that standard keyboards allow most users to keep their arms and wrists in a neutral posture.
  • Keyboard or mouse palm/wrist rests: Palm/wrist rests may be used to keep a user’s wrists in a neutral posture and prevent leaning wrists on the edge of a desk, creating contact stress.


Kelly States
Assistant Director

Sean Farrell
Workplace Safety Specialist