Male in front of computers rubbing his neck away from the pain

Ergonomics applies the knowledge of a human’s capabilities and limitations to the design of workplaces, workstations, tasks, tools, equipment, and the work environment as a whole. Ergonomics is essentially fitting the workplace to the worker.

The word ergonomics is derived from the Greek roots: “ergo” = work” “nomos” = law or “The Laws of Work”

The primary goal of ergonomics in the workplace is to reduce the risk of a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) by reducing or eliminating worker exposure to hazards that promote WMSDs.

Other ergonomic goals include:

  • Increase worker productivity and performance
  • Decrease worker discomfort
  • Improve the overall quality of the work environment

Rest and Break Tips

Working in the same position for long periods of time at a computer puts your muscles under constant strain, reducing blood flow and oxygen to hard-working tissues. It helps to take a break by alternating the types of tasks you perform throughout the day. 

  • Use correct posture when working. Keep moving as much as possible throughout the day.
  • Eye breaks: Every 15 minutes you should briefly look away from the screen for a minute or two, shifting your line of sight to a more distant scene.
  • Micro-breaks: During a micro-break (less than two minutes) stretch, stand up, move around, or do a different work task, such as making a phone call, filing, or any other work that does not involve using a keyboard and mouse.
  • Rest breaks: Every 30 to 60 minutes, you should take a brief break. Again, this could be as simple as performing a task that does not involve using your computer.

Ergonomics Assessment

To have an assessment of your workstation or space, fill out the form and complete the tutorial.

Laboratory Ergonomics - OSHA Guidelines

Laboratory Safety Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders

Office Ergonomics – OSHA Guidelines

Correct Posture and Office Chair Setup

Proper Keyboard and Mouse Setup



Computer Screen Setup

Computer Monitors

Document and Telephone Placement

Document Holders


Additional Resources

OSHA Computer Workstations e-Tool

University of Maryland, Baltimore - “Ergonomic Education for Computer Workstations Tutorial

OSHA Computer Workstation Self-Evaluation Checklist

Computer Workstation eTool Checklist