Health & Wellbeing When Working at Your Desk

Some of us spend a lot of our working day sitting at desks using a computer. Research has suggested that sitting for long periods of time can be bad for your health even if you exercise regularly.

It helps to have regular breaks from your desk and make sure you move around during the day. The other important issue to consider is how you are set up at your workstation. Your chair, your desk, the placement of your monitors, keyboard, phone and mouse can all contribute to poor health if they are not placed in the correct position.

If you suffer from back, neck or shoulder pain (known as musculoskeletal pain) or hand, arm or wrist pain (known as an upper limb disorder), it might mean that your workstation has not been set up to suit you.

It is a good idea to prevent these issues before they arise so invest in some time to assess your workstation setup. You also need to make sure that you are sitting properly at your desk to make the most of these changes. If you hadn't already guessed, the picture above is a good example of poor workstation setup and posture.

Here is information on related health issues and prevention advice from the Kent County Council Health & Safety Team.  

Musculoskeletal pain

Musculoskeletal pain affects the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones and can be caused by a variety of reasons such as the wear and tear from daily activities, trauma to an area, such as a car accident, falls, repetitive movements, overuse and postural strain. 

Upper Limb Disorders

ULD’s are aches and pains and tension involving any part of the arm from fingers to shoulder, or the neck.  Pain affects the soft tissue muscles, tendons and ligaments along with the circulatory and nerve supply to the limb and is often caused or made worse by poor ergonomics.

What do we mean by ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science that deals with designing and arranging things so that people can use them easily and safely. 

What can you do to prevent these ill health issues?

Check to see that your workstation is set up correctly to ensure that you are working in the correct ergonomic manner.  An incorrect workstation setup can be a significant contributing factor to your aches and pains as additional mechanical stress can be placed on your muscles, ligaments and joints.  If your setup is incorrect, then make the necessary changes to help you work safely without any aches and pains.

How do I do this?

There is a variety of guidance and information on computer safety, how to adjust your office chair and how to work safely when using a laptop which is available on the health and safety pages for all staff on both the KELSI website for schools or KNET  for non-school staff.

In addition to the above guidance, I would recommend that all staff complete the online E-Learning package for Display Screen Equipment.  School staff will need to contact or to enquire how to access the package.  Non-school staff will be able to access this from the Kent E-learning Gateway


Taking time to understand the ergonomic principals you should be following and adapting your workstation setup whether you are a fixed desk worker or a hot desk worker will greatly improve your health and wellbeing to minimise any health risks when using your computer.

Should you require any further information, contact the Health & Safety team on our Advice Line which is 03000 418456 or email us at

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