Why Ergonomics Matter

Safe Work Australia - literature review of the hazards of sedentary work

Involving little exercise or physical activity, or known as Sedentary, has become increasingly linked to behaviours which result in negative outcomes such as:

  • Lowering mortality rates
  • Cardio-metabolic risk factors
  • Cancer
  • Musculoskelatal Disorders
  • Mental Health
  • Productivity

  • A 2016 report provided by Safe Work Australia and produced by Professors & Doctors from Australian Universities and Studies (details below) highlighted that 81% of Australian workers reported some exposure to sitting often or all of the time at work. This reviewed summarised that more than 7 hours of sedentary behaviour per day, is likely to be detrimental to health and therefore considered excessive. It also found, that more than 20-30mins each bout of sitting, is likely to be detrimental to health and therefore also considered excessive.

    Breaches of OH&S Act 2004 would be likely under this definition and should be taken very seriously.
    Work Safe Australia

    Literature review of the hazards of sedentary work was produced by Professor Leon Straker and Doctor Pieter Coenen of Curtin University, Perth, Australia, Professor David Dunstan of the Baker IDI, Melbourne, Australia, and Doctor Nicholas Gilson and Doctor Genevieve Healy of The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Click here for the full review

    Key aims to minimise harm from occupational sitting

    The illustration to the right demonstrates the aim of reducing sedentary work throughout a typical day from morning to the afternoon by interrupting sedentary behaviour by introducing bouts of standing, exercising (such as walking) with the aim to address both productivity and healthy wellbeing.

    This report recommends sitting with alternativing standing every 30minutes greatly reduces the accumulation of sedentary time

    Aiming to reduce Sedentary behaviour

    Example of A Healthy Workstation

    1) Raise or lower the seat to ensure your thighs are parallel to the floor with your feet flat on the floor or a footrest.

    2) Adjust seat pan depth to maintain two inches of clearance between the back of your knees and the front edge of the seat.

    3) Adjust backrest height to comfortably fit the small of your back.

    4) Adjust the recline tension, if necessary, to support varying degrees of recline throughout the day.

    5) Avoid the use of recline locks. Lean back and relax in your chair to allow the backrest to support your upper body

    6)Angle the keyboard away from your body to keep wrists straight while typing. Rest your palms—not your wrists—on a palm support.

    7)Position the monitor at least an arm’s length away with the top line of text at or slightly below eye level. Tilt the monitor away from you so your line of sight is perpendicular to the monitor.

    8)Position a task light to the side opposite your writing hand. Shine it on paper documents but away from computer monitors to reduce glare.

    9)Align the monitor and spacebar with the midline of your body and arrange frequently used work tools within easy reach. Prop reference documents between your body and the monitor with an in-line document holder.

    10Take two or three 30- to 60-second breaks each hour to allow your body to recover from periods of repetitive stress.