Mission Statement of the Syracuse University Ergonomics Task Force

To provide quality services in ergonomics to effectively assist Syracuse University in reducing  occupational injuries and, therefore, reducing workers’ compensation costs. With suggested techniques and information, we will enhance safety, health, and productivity.

Definition: Ergonomics is the science that studies how people interact with machines and their working environment (furniture, lighting, etc.) The objective is to find a way to maximize safety, comfort, job performance ,and accuracy.

Ergonomic stressors are a leading cause of workplace injury and illness in the 1990’s that result in:

  • Absenteeism
  • Rising workers’ compensation and medical costs
  • Lost productivity
  • Declining work quality
  • Decreased worker morale
  • Pain and suffering for afflicted individual

For advice on preventing ergonomic stressors or to schedule an office workstation ergonomics evaluation, contact the Fire and Life Safety Services Office at 315.443.5474.

Desktop Setup

  • The desk height and width are crucial to a proper workstation.
  • The desk or tabletop should be between 26″ – 28″ off the floor.
  • The width of the desk/tabletop should be between 28″ – 36″.
  • The work area should be neat and tidy.
  • You should not have less than 3″ from the top of your legs to the bottom of the desk.
  • If you are using an adjustable keyboard support, make sure it supports both your keyboard and mouse.
  • Allow leg and foot clearance under the desk. Do not store boxes, waste baskets, or personal belongings under the desk.

The Right Chair

Are you using the right chair for you at your work station? A properly designed and adjustable chair is critical to a workstation.

  • The chair should be fully adjustable— height, armrests, lumbar support, and backrest.
  • The height and tilt of the backrest should be adjustable. The tilt adjustment should be forward and backward.
  • The chair should be sized correctly for the user.
  • If a new chair is to be purchased, it is recommended the chair be loaned for a 3 – 5 day period so that the user can allow his/her body to adjust to the chair.
  • The front edge of the seat on the chair should not be in contact with the user’s legs while sitting. This will help to minimize poor leg circulation and allow the user to sit back against the backrest.
  • The chair should be supported by a five-leg base for stability, and glide easily along the floor surface.
  • Become familiar with the operations of your chair. Many people do not know how to use all of the adjustments on their chair.

The user must be positioned properly in the chair.

  • Feet flat on the floor.
  • Knees and hips at a 90º angle.
  • Buttocks back in the chair.
  • Lower back should be against the backrest and be supported in the lumbar region of the back.


Correct lighting and reducing glare can prevent eye fatigue.

  • To avoid direct glare, don’t place your desk in front of a window.
  • To avoid indirect glare, don’t have a window positioned behind you.
  • Lower your level of lighting in the area of the monitor (i.e., remove bulbs from overhead lighting).
  • Glare screens that attach directly to the monitor are an effective way to reduce glare.
  • Blinds, shades, and draperies are effective tools to reduce window light.
  • Avoid a bright colored desk surface. This tends to reflect light into your eyes.
  • Adjust the brightness controls on your monitor to a level that is relaxing for your eyes.

Workstation Tips

  • Make sure the climate/temperature in your work area is comfortable for you.
  • The noise level should be appropriate for the job task.
  • Remember to take micro-breaks. For every 45 minutes to an hour working at a workstation, you should allow yourself at least a 3 – 4 minute break. Move yourself away from the workstation.
  • If you are using a document holder, it should be mounted to your monitor. This will allow the neck to stay in a neutral and relaxed position.
  • If pain develops in a single hand or arm, it is most likely from using the mouse and an adjustment must be made.
  • If pain develops in both hands or arms, it is most likely due to improper positioning of the keyboard.
  • If you experience pain or discomfort, do not delay in notifying your supervisor.
  • If you receive frequent phone calls or your phone calls are lengthy, a headset may be needed.