Sit stand desks - OHS information sheet

December 2020

Background

There is considerable evidence to suggest that prolonged sitting is detrimental to health, increasing the risk of illness and disease, even when people exercise regularly.

Conversely, there are many benefits to sitting less and moving more, including reduced risk of chronic diseases, improved weight management and reducing the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders.

The Heart Foundation of Australia's advice for adults includes:

  • Regular breaks from sitting to reduce the risk of chronic disease, including adults who exercise regularly
  • Encourage strategies for work to reduce sitting time and promote regular movement.

It is important to note the adults who engage in regular planned exercise can still sit for long periods during the day and therefore still need to consider standing benefits.

What can we do in the workplace to sit less and move more?

  • stand and take a break from your desk every 30 minutes
  • use stairs and avoid lifts
  • use bins and printers that are located further from your workstation
  • take standing breaks in long sitting meetings
  • stand to greet a visitor
  • stand for phone calls
  • walk to colleagues' desks to speak instead of phoning or emailing them
  • use height adjustable desks
  • have standing meetings
  • have walking meetings
  • use a headset or speaker during phone calls enabling standing
  • eat your lunch away from your desk
  • stand at the back of the room during presentations
  • park the car further away from work
  • use active transport to commute to work (walk, ride your bike, stand while taking the train/bus or at the station/stop)

Standing-friendly culture can be promoted and supported in the workplace through raising awareness and behaviour-modelling by managers/supervisors.

Steps to take at Monash to encourage less sitting

All seated work would benefit from increased breaks from sitting. Where possible, review and revise job and task design and minimise sitting time for sedentary work.

Locate facilities to encourage incidental movement, e.g. place waste disposal units, centralised printers and other facilities away from workstations and other interventions as mentioned above.

Individual areas may determine through budget and other priorities their requirements for sitting less including the provision of sit stand workstations.

New buildings/refurbishments are to include provision of sit stand desks as determined by function and layout, with a high proportion of sit stand workstations.

Criteria for ordering a sit stand desk

  1. Staff should discuss their request with their manager/supervisor.
  2. Ensure there is a dedicated power point for the desk's sole use.
  3. Ensure there are no overhead shelves or storage hutches in the way of the desk when raised during standing mode.
  4. No heaters or fans are to be connected to the powerpack installed on the electric sit stand desk as this will run the risk of overloading the electric motor.
  5. It is the responsibility of the individual department to pay for sit stand desks.
  6. It is the responsibility of the individual department to decide whether the request for the desk is reasonable, with consideration given to factors such as budgetary constraints, the person's work tasks, etc.

Specifications of desks

  1. All electric sit stand desks must be approved models and purchased from approved suppliers (details provided below).
  2. All electric sit stand desks will be delivered and installed with a below desk cable tray and powerpack.
  3. The powerpack will contain a minimum of four (4) power points and two (2) data points per desk.
  4. All desks will be tagged for electrical compliance on delivery.
  5. The desks are only available in Monash-approved Laminex® laminate colours (White 200 and Select Beech) and the same finishes as per standard workstations.

Available sizes

  • 1500mm L x 800mm D
  • 1800mm L x 800mm D
  • 2100mm L x 800mm D

Note: Any other desk sizes are non-standard and require an Exemption Form to be completed stating the reason for the deviation from the standard sizes.  This form requires prior approval via Strategic Procurement.

The cost of a sit stand desk starts from approximately $1400.

Suppliers

Orders can only be made with the approval of a facility manager.  Monash-approved electric sit stand desk suppliers, found below, can provide you with a quotation:

SupplierContactContact DetailsMonash-approved SSD model
SchiavelloLily Dowling0428 856 844  LDowling@schiavello.comKrossi
UCIJeremy Rosier0409 566 808  jeremy.rosier@uci.com.auParadigm
Watson CommercialJoanne Richardson0418 376 910  sales@watsonci.com.au501-11
Workspace ErgonomicsKevin Darling-Filby0422 728 466  kevin@wsergo.com.auSelectric

How to set up your sit stand desk

Alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.  Stand for as long as possible throughout the day to achieve the full benefits of a sit stand workstation.

sitstandimage

  1. Determine the standing desk height by relaxing your shoulders and bending your elbows to 90°.
  2. Adjust the desk height to just below the forearms.
  3. To set the desk for seating, adjust the desk height by using the guidelines in the workstation set-up interactive tool, Workstation Standalone Ergonomics, or refer to the Office Ergonomic Guidelines.
  4. To minimise leg fatigue, shift weight from one leg to the other occasionally.
  5. Frequently adjust your posture throughout the working day.
  6. Take frequent breaks away from your computer.
  7. Stretching exercises should also be completed on a regular basis.

General principles for workstation set-up

  • Thighs running parallel to the ground. Hips/knees at 90°-100°.
  • Feet placed firmly on the floor.
  • Bottom positioned to the very rear of the chair to utilise the back support. Back of thighs clear of the chair.
  • Lower back supported by the backrest. Backrest angled between 90°-110°.
  • Forearms supported at or just above the desk height.
  • Shoulders should be relaxed not hunched.
  • Elbows relaxed at the side of your body when typing and using the mouse.  Allow for an angle of 90°-110° when typing.
  • Wrists straight and in line with your forearms. Keyboard angled flat, with G and H keys in line beneath the nose.
  • Head upright with ears in line with shoulders.
  • Eyes in line with the top third of the screen.

Resources

Monash OH&S Ergonomics Website

National Heart Foundation of Australia Sitting less for adults

For further information, contact the Occupational Health team on 990 51014 or BPD-OHNC@monash.edu.

References

Australian Government - Comcare. (n.d.). Benefits of Movement — Be Upstanding! Retrieved from https://www.comcare.gov.au/about/forms-publications/documents/publications/safety/benefits-of-movement-beupstanding-factsheet.pdf

Boyle, T., Fritschi, L., Heyworth, J. & Bull, F. (2010). Long term sedentary work and the risk of substitute specific colorectal cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology, 173(10), 1183-1191. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq513

National Heart Foundation of Australia. (2011). Sitting less for adults. Retrieved from https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/getmedia/88c39659-675e-44b2-9da8-b9b28b5f0c83/PA-Sitting-Less-Adults.pdf

Owen, N., Healy, G. N., Matthews, C. E., & Dunstan, D. W. (2010). Too much sitting: the population health science of sedentary behaviour. Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews, 38(3), 105-113. doi: 10.1097/JES.0b013e3181e373a2

Acknowledgement to UCI and Medibank Workstation Set-up Factsheet.