Office Ergonomic Setups – 12 x Backsafe Hot Tips

To get back home safely every day, you must get up and Move, Move, Move! At Backsafe this is one fact we know for sure. Getting regular movement into your daily routine is vital to your health and well-being as an office-based athlete in industry.

Human beings are known as “homo-erectus” or upright or standing man a condition dating back 1.8 million years ago. However due to our modern lifestyles, we have started to become known (to ergonomists) as “homo-sedentary” or “sitting man”.  This is due to the fact that many of us spend up to 25% of our life sitting on some form of chair. This new condition started 12,000 years ago when we became an agrarian (or farmer) based society where people went home to sit in the evenings. This seated lifestyle then accelerated just a few hundred years ago when offices were developed as part of the industrial revolution.

I’m sure most of you would recognise that sitting at a desk all day is not what your body was designed for. The human body is designed to move, stretch, go for a walk, do a few of your favourite yoga moves or carrying out some of the Backsafe Before Work and After Break Stretches.

The bottom line is that you need to get your muscles moving and your blood flowing at regular intervals during the day to help you survive every day. You also need to set up your office work station correctly to make sure you are working safely and in accordance with the best body biomechanics.

The list below gives you some Backsafe Tips for the layout of your desk setup in the light of the message described above – Move Move Move!


These should be assessed using general ergonomic principles as set out below. When seated the body should be in a relaxed, upright position from the hips to the crown of the head. This ensures minimum effort is expended when sitting, thus reducing fatigue and stress to the spinal column and extremities.


  1. Sit upright and relaxed, particularly at the shoulders. Feet should rest on the floor or, in the case of a person with shorter legs, on a foot-rest (inclined at 15-20 degrees).
  2. Knees are bent with hips slightly higher (or in some cases) lower than the knees according to preference.
  3. Both thighs and buttocks should rest on the whole seat with the feet forward. Occasionally the feet should be placed under the chair behind the line of the buttocks, so that the thighs and the legs take the weight of the body and rest the base of the spine near the bottom.
  4. Lower back is supported by the back-rest of the chair or, if the chair lacks a lumbar support, then a lumbar roll of suitable diameter should be used.
  5. The chair should be close to the desk at waist height.
  6. Upper arms should hang comfortably by your side.
  7. Elbows are bent at 90 degrees with the forearms and wrists straight resting on the desk or on a proper wrist rest appended to the keyboard.
  8. Neck is to be relaxed, eyes looking straight ahead with the monitor between 450-600mm from the face.
  9. The keyboard should be approx. 375mm from the screen.
  10. Frequently used items (files, hole punch, rubber stamps, telephone etc.) should be easily reached without stretching or twisting. These items should be positioned between the waist and the shoulders. Nothing should be picked up from the floor while seated. Stand, then bend both knees to retrieve dropped items.
  11. Breaks including a short walk should be taken at least every 2 hours when entering data or working on data while seated.
  12. Frequent micro breaks and regular movements should be made within the two-hour time slot.

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