Ergonomics and Workstation Assessments

Work Health and Safety Ergonomics and workstation assessments

Ergonomics and Workstation Assessments

One of the biggest contributors to injuries in the tertiary education sector is in the area of workstation ergonomics.

Ergonomics encompasses a range of elements, including the interface between the employee and the job, and considers factors such as:

  • The physical and psychological demands on the employee that are necessary to perform the job
  • The mechanical equipment used to perform the job, and
  • The work space in which the employee is required to perform the task.

Human factors such as working posture and movement breaks are equally as important as ergonomic factors for injury prevention in the workplace.

What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics examines the relationship between a person and the elements of their workplace associated with the task at hand. Ergonomics can apply to three levels of activity in the workplace:

  1. Workstation design
  2. Workplace design, and
  3. Job design

An ergonomic workstation assessment creates an opportunity to increase understanding of the interactions between the individual and their work space, as well as to ensure optimal set up and effective human factors are in place.

Human factors

The need to incorporate regular physical activity and movement into our day is well researched and is an important factor with regard to individual health and wellbeing.  Having a sedentary occupation can make this seem difficult, and a concerted effort is required to seek out every opportunity for movement.  The Activity Based Work Guideline provides a number of strategies that can be employed to incorporate movement into the work day.

Information about sit to stand workstations can be found in the Activity Based Work Guideline and the Sit to Stand Workstation Information Guideline.

What is a workstation assessment?

The JCU Workstation Ergonomic Assessment is a self-assessment tool to be conducted by the individual at their workstation.  The goal of the assessment is to identify potential problem areas and to determine suitable amendments and recommendations that can be made.

The assessment will take into consideration fundamental ergonomic principles to make your workstation layout more comfortable for you.  The assessment is designed to increase understanding of optimal set up, and to provide guidance on healthy workstation behaviours which help to reduce injury risk.

When to consider a workstation assessment

You should consider a workstation assessment if you:

  • Are a new employee
  • Are experiencing pain and/or discomfort throughout the day
  • Find you are feeling more fatigued than usual
  • Have recently experienced an injury, and/or
  • Have long-term chronic injury or illness.

What types of workstation assessments are available?

Different types of workstation assessments available include:

  • A self-assessment using an approved checklist
  • Assessment by the Health, Safety and Environment Unit's Injury Prevention and Management Advisor, or
  • Assessment by an external provider.

Ergonomic Workstation Self-Assessment Checklist for Employees

The Ergonomic Workstation Self-Assessment tool is available for all employees to assess their own workstation. This tool is designed to step the user through the necessary adjustments and identify any necessary equipment.  The self-assessment must be completed prior to requesting additional assistance by the HSE unit.  The self-assessment form and accompanying guidelines can be found here:

Assessment by a JCU Injury Prevention and Management Advisor

The Health, Safety and Environment Unit can provide workstation assessments for employees.  A workstation assessment with the JCU Injury Prevention and Management Advisor is free of charge to employees, and should be considered if an employee has completed the self-assessment form and continues to experience, pain, discomfort or difficulty managing an injury or illness.  To request an assessment, please contact rehab@jcu.edu.au.

External provider assessment

An external assessment should be discussed with your line manager, and can be arranged by contacting the HSE Injury Prevention and Management Advisor. An external assessment would only usually be arranged under special circumstances and is not a common practice. For further information, please contact rehab@jcu.edu.au.  There is a cost associated with external assessments which is to be paid for by the business unit requesting the assessment.

Who pays for new equipment?

Purchasing of particular furniture or items for your workstation is to be completed by the employee's business unit following the Equipment Purchasing Guideline and JCU Procurement process. It is the responsibility of the employee's business unit to purchase such items.

What happens when the assessment is complete?

  • If you have completed the self-assessment checklist this record should be stored locally with your line manager.
  • If you have identified necessary changes, such as new furniture or ergonomic equipment, you should discuss this with your supervisor and follow the Ergonomic Equipment Purchasing Guideline and JCU Procurement processes.
  • If the JCU Injury Prevention and Management Advisor has conducted an assessment, you and your supervisor will receive a report with recommendations.
  • If an external provider has conducted an assessment, you and your supervisor will receive a report with recommendations.

If you have an injury or are experiencing ongoing pain or discomfort, lodge an incident notification on RiskWare to alert the HSE Injury Prevention and Management Advisor.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Health, Safety and Environment Unit for further information or assistance:

Injury Prevention and Management Advisor
Phone (07) 4781 6182
rehab@jcu.edu.au