Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Human Resources

Common Topics

Avoiding aches and pains at your workstation

  • ADJUST your workstation so it is comfortable for you.
  • Have you had a recent DSE assessment? Contact your local DSE assessor if you need further help with your workstation set-up.
  • CHAIR –find out how to adjust your chair and set it up correctly for you. Adjust the backrest height so the curved support lines up with the inward curve of your back. Sit right back in the chair and USE the BACKREST to support your back. ADJUST the height of your chair or your desk to ensure your ELBOWS are at 90 degrees and your wrists are straight (ie not bent up or down nor twisted in or out to the side).
  • Use a FOOTREST if your feet are not flat on the floor.
  • SIT CLOSE to the DESK so you are not leaning or stretching forward. If the arms on your chair prevent you from sitting in close to the desk, speak to your line manager to have them removed.
  • Bring the MOUSE in CLOSE to you so that your arm is not stretched. Don’t grip the mouse and take your hand away from it when it is not in use.
  • AVOID repetitive movements, especially for lengthy periods of time. Try to learn keyboard shortcuts rather than use the mouse too often.
  • Vary tasks throughout the day.
  • Ensure your SCREEN is directly in front of you, at EYE-LEVEL and about an arms distance away.
  • MULTIPLE SCREENS should ideally be at the same height and angled in.
  • Position PAPERWORK so that your head is NOT twisted to the side. Obtain a document holder or writing slope if necessary.
  • NEVER cradle the PHONE between you ear and shoulder. Use a headset if your role includes a high degree of telephony work

Take REGULAR POSTURE BREAKS. This allows muscles to rest and recover. Get up and move around for about 5 minutes every hour. STRETCH regularly throughout the day and try to do some regular exercise in your time off.

Have look at the advice sheets one these various websites for details about appropriate exercises and DSE set up:

General DSE resourceshttp://www.ergonomics.co.uk/resources.html





If you are experiencing any health issues that you believe may be related to your work, seek prompt advice from your Manager, DSE assessor or Occupational Health


Tim Ellis, RN, SPCHN (OH)
Occupational Health Advisor

'Hot desking'

Multi-user workstations (Hot-Desking)

In general terms ‘hot-desks’, if supplied with standard equipment (chair, screen, keyboard and mouse) should all be adjustable to accommodate the majority of people, so you must get into the habit of moving things around when you work at one. Too many times people sit at a hot-desk and work with the settings a previous employee had used, causing discomfort.

Here are some pointers:

1.    Adjust your seat back, height and tilt to give good lower back support.

2.    Adjust seat height so your forearms and wrists are roughly horizontal with the keyboard’s ‘ASD...’ row.

3.    Type with wrists in a horizontal position.

4.    Head comfortably up, neck not stretched forward. Shoulders relaxed, not hunched up or arched forward. Avoid forward head leaning posture.

5.    Keep your feet flat on the floor, obtain a foot rest if required. DON’T drop the chair down because you can’t reach the floor, or cross/sit on your legs

6.    Ensure sufficient space under and around the desk to allow for changes in position.

7.    Ensure your screen is at a comfortable viewing distance (recommended is about arms-length).

8.    Ensure the height and angle of the screen are comfortable for use (recommendation is eye level at top of screen).

9.    Ensure there is space in front of the keyboard to support your hands/wrists during pauses in typing.

10. Keep the workstation tidy, and ensure essential documents and your phone are close to hand- AVOID over reaching

11. If using a Laptop for more than an hour (less if you have an underlying neck/ back condition), use a separate keyboard and mouse and screen if possible, or use a laptop stand/ textbook etc to raise the screen up to eye level.

12. Take regular short “micro” breaks away from the desk to change posture; fetching a drink/ going to the photocopier etc are good examples of ways to do this


Other advice

Complete the online DSE self-assessment at www.openerg.com/dse as many times as you wish for extra training and assessment.

Discuss with your manager and/ or local DSE assessor if you need a further assessment of your work area.

For complex issues that can’t be resolved as above, or if there is a need for specialist equipment, please contact occupationalhealth@lboro.ac.uk or 222851 to speak to the OH advisor.

For eye tests click here: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/health-safety/occupational-health/computer-safety/


Tim Ellis, RN, SPCHN (OH) 
Occupational Health Advisor
October 2014

Height Adjustable desks and 'sit-stand' adapters

What are height adjustable desks and 'sit- stand' adapters?

There has been a growing trend for employees to request height adjustable or "sit-stand" desks, to assist with reducing back pain and other musculo-skeletal disorders (MSD's). These are normally operated either via a crank handle or electonic mechanism. In some countries, these sorts of desks are a standard feature in offices, such as in Scandinavia. There is also interest being shown in "sit-stand adaptors" which sit on top of a normal desk and are height adjustable too which is an innovative new way of approaching this issue, as well as being much cheaper.

The flexibility to be able to alternate sitting and standing throughout the day is to be encouraged, and is also mentioned in the HSE regulations on DSE use. There is much research evidence that also recommends this. No-one should be "chained" to their desk for an entire day (yes I do hear that a lot!).

All computer users must build in regular breaks throughout their day, they should have had a DSE assessment www.openerg.com/dse (this will be replaced by the new 'Cardinus' system which will be introduced in 2015) and also have spoken to their local DSE assessor about any issues in case any simple remedial measures can be put in place. Also, the chair in use must be fit for purpose, the employee must know how to change the settings and again the DSE assessor can help with that.

If a height adjustable desk or adaptor is requested, please speak to the FM Furniture team http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/fm/services/furniture/ as they can arrange a suitable supplier. Each individual department/ school/ service is responsible for its own purchasing. There is no central or Occupational Health budget to buy any such equipment.


There is no obligation to buy from the following supplier, but if you look here http://www.posturite.co.uk/desks-furniture/height-adjustable-standing-desks.html this gives you a good idea of the options available. The FM Furniture team can obtain such items on a 14 day sale or return basis  (The University also gets a discount of around 20%).  You may wish to consider the desk adaptor as it is cheaper than a height adjustable desk and often easier to install.

Further ergonomic advice

Standing desks will not necessarily eliminate aches and pains as poor posture while standing can also lead to musculoskeletal problems. Some common posture problems include allowing your shoulders to hunch forward or leaning forward, letting your stomach push out so that your lower back sways inward, allowing your head to hang down or resting all of your weight on one leg.

When working at a standing desk, you should be set up in the normal fashion i.e. it must be at the correct height for your upper body and arms. Also: 

  • Alternate as appropriate between standing and sitting to work
  • Watch your posture: hold your head straight and balanced at the top of your spine (your head is quite heavy, so letting it hang forward can put considerable strain on your neck muscles). Keep your shoulders back but relaxed and pull in your abdomen to straighten the sway in your lower spine
  • Don’t lock your knees when standing; allowing them to be loose will encourage movement
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Take regular breaks to walk around, stretch and move about throughout the day


You may also wish to have a look at the advice on adaptive equipment in this comon topics section.


Tim Ellis, RN, SPCHN (OH)  
Occupational Health Advisor
October 2014


Paperless meetings

Loughborough University is moving towards 'paperless' meetings across campus. It is important to consider the DSE and ergonomic safety issues this could bring about.

These are some recommendations:

  • Building in more posture breaks into long meetings; in general terms this could mean over 1 hour duration. The Chairperson of the meeting should allow and encourage people to stand and stretch as and when required, but at least hourly. This frequency may have to be increased if the chairs, desk and environment are not entirely suitable(e.g. non-adjustable chairs in a hot room).
  • Employees with underlying conditions that may need extra adjustments (ref. the Equality Act 2010) should be encouraged to speak with the Chairperson or meeting organiser in plenty of time so that their needs can be accommodated.
  • All users consider the 5 steps below


‘5 step’ guide to Employees and Users of Portable devices:


Everyone is different so apply these according to your situation:

Step One

 Try to support your arms on a chair or table to take the load off the neck and shoulder muscles whilst operating a portable device.  For the smaller devices, alternate between holding it up with the screen facing towards you so that you are not having to flex your neck too much as you look down to view the screen.

 Step Two

 Keep hand and arm close to your body.  The weight of a phone or device may not feel like much but the load on your arm is significantly increased if the arm is held out-stretched and this action will put a strain on your neck.

 Step Three

 Swap hands regularly before the onset of any discomfort.  Try using your non-dominant hand for a change (if you are right handed try using your left and vice versa).

 Step Four

 If your hand or forearm feels tense or sore massage the arm from wrist to elbow.

 Step Five

 Carry out these exercises from time to time:

1)      Regularly open your fingers and stretch them out.

2)      Stretch your arm out and rotate your wrist so it is facing upwards.

3)      Stretch your arm out and rotate your wrist so it is facing downwards.

4)      Turn your head side to side and nod up and down

5)      Look elsewhere/ out of the window and alternate focusing on objects near and far

6)      Take the opportunity to alternate standing and sitting


Tim Ellis, RN, SPCHN (OH)  
Occupational Health Advisor

Post Graduate Students

Occupational Health is frequently asked to advise on DSE issues for Post Graduates.  The University still has a duty of care towards them due to the varied types of work related activities they undertake and this extends to DSE assessments. Occupational Health is not available to perform first-line DSE assessments in any case; these should be conducted via the normal route: 

  1. They should do an online DSE assessment www.openerg.com/dse
  2. They should discuss the results and seek support from their local DSE assessor http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/health-safety/departmental-contacts/dsa/index.html
  3. If it is a simple request for a new chair or desk then they should speak to the FM furniture team who are the experts in procuring the right equipment http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/fm/services/furniture/
  4. If the issues cannot be resolved then OH can see the person, and suggest adaptive equipment.
  5. All users should review the additional DSE guidance in this section too

Either way the department supervisor/ HOD or whoever is in charge needs to provide support, as ultimately any costs for adaptive equipment will come from their budget.

DSE Eye Tests

Post Grads are not eligible for free DSE user eye tests, however a Post Grad who is also working as a part time University Teacher will be; confirmation of employment status must be provided and can be checked by OH if required on iTrent/ myHR. But only the cost of the eye test is covered by OH; any costs for corrective glasses needs to be discussed with the HOD/ Operations Manager.


Updated by:

Tim Ellis, RN, SPCHN (OH)

October 2014


Use of Auto Text in MS Word

DSE adaptive equipment

Energy Efficient lighting and Migraines

Thermal Comfort


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Tel: 01509 222169

Fax: 01509 223903

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Tel: 01509 228384


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