Office work shouldn't hurt


Back pain, sore wrists and necks, and other Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) are a major cause of workers’ disability and costs to workers, businesses, and society. Eliminating and reducing MSD hazards at the office is part of creating a safe workplace.


Small changes in the office can make a big difference in preventing the development of MSD. The goal of “Office Ergonomics” is to improve health and effectiveness during office work.


This Guide contains quick workplace fixes to help keep workers free of MSD while performing office work. It provides basic information and encourages businesses to get started on preventing MSD during office work and helps workers configure their workstations. The Office Quick Start Guideline is comprised of fact sheets and posters that can be downloaded and distributed freely. They are accessible through the images below or the links under “Downloadable Resources."


Set up your office workstation effectively


Note that there is no single "correct" working position that fits everyone's body and work tasks, and that allows comfort for extended periods of time. The Guideline documents aim to provide help with achieving postures and workstation setups that position workers to minimize the occurrence of MSD. Remember, movement while sitting or standing as well as whole body activity (i.e. walking) are important components of office work and reducing MSD..


An infographic of a person seated at a desk working on a computer with setup instructions. Step 1: Set chair height. Step 2: Set chair settings. Step 3: Set desk height: Step 4: Set your desk. Step 5: Set monitor height.   











































Experiencing pain or discomfort? Try these quick MSD prevention actions



Working positions infographic    Support the body infographic  Support the arms infographic



  See infographic   Reach infographic 



Need more help?


Downloadable resources are available through the Office Quick Start Guideline

  • Use the folder to help you get started. It provides information on how to use the posters and steps for taking a systematic approach to MSD prevention.

  • Use the posters as guides during walkthroughs and inspections. On the back of the poster, write observations and ideas about possible fixes for hazards.

  • Use the posters as a script to help workers, supervisors and others during training and safety talks. Use the discussion to brainstorm possible fixes.

  • Use the posters in the lunchroom or on the Health & Safety board to alert workers to potential MSD hazards in their work and their relationship to pain and discomfort.

  • Keep looking for improvements!


Office Quick Start Guideline: Folder


Quick Start Guideline for Office: Folder


Office Quick Start Guideline Folder - 11 x 17 (PDF)

Office Quick Start Guideline Folder - 8.5 x 11 (PDF)


Office Quick Start Guideline: Mini Posters (8.5 x 11)


Office Quick Start Guide: Posters


Individual posters:

Office Quick Start Guideline - Office Ergonomics (PDF)

Office Quick Start Guideline - Change it up: Move (PDF)

Office Quick Start Guideline - Reduce Fatigue by Supporting Your Body (PDF)

Office Quick Start Guideline - Reduce Fatigue by Supporting Your Arms (PDF)

Office Quick Start Guideline - See: Your Body Follows Your Eyes (PDF)

Office Quick Start Guideline - Reach: Keep it Close (PDF)

Office Quick Start Guideline - Work Shouldn't Hurt (PDF)

NEW! Office Quick Start Guideline - Sit-Stand Workstations (PDF)


Poster combinations:

Office Quick Start Guideline - Mini Posters Combined (PDF)

Office Quick Start Guideline - Folder and Mini Posters Combined (PDF)


Office Quick Start Guideline: Large Poster (11 x 17)


Office Quick Start Guideline: Large Poster


Office Quick Start Guideline - Large Poster (PDF)



Next steps


Want to go a step further in your offce MSD prevention activiites? These additional resources can help.


Office risk assessments and improvements


CSA Z412-17: Office ergonomics - An application standard for workplace ergonomics (Annex A)

Ergonomics design guidelines for a computer workstation. Provides specific recommendations and dimensions for office furniture (chair and desk) including all relevant features, seated postures, peripheral equipment, reach distances, neck angles, environmental conditions, and some minor materials handling guidelines.

Ergonomics Evaluation Checklist for Medical Tablet Personal Computers

A survey designed to evaluate tablet use among medical professionals. Consists of 29 yes/no questions about use, portability, office use, and hardware.

Rapid Office Strain Assessment (ROSA)

Picture-based checklist that quantifies exposure to office risk factors. Scores several different equipment aspects to give individual scores for chair and peripherals/monitor and a grand score. Action demand is based on grand score.

In-Vehicle Computing Ergonomics Checklist

The checklist is a detailed screening method for workers performing in-car computing such as police officers in cruisers. It also provides the user with simple recommendations on ways to improve the work environment.


Reducing office hazards


Sit-Stand Workstations

A fact sheet from Ontario Public Safety Health & Safety Association. Describe to how to use sit-stand workstations effectively to control for prolonged static postures during office work. (3 pages pdf)

Office Assessment

Video from the Centre for Ergonomics, University of Michigan, USA. Shows the assessment of a computer workstation including dimension and views needed. Hazards are identified during the video and it concludes with a list of recommended controls. (video duration 4:49)

Office Ergonomics

Set of 15 fact sheets from Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Provides best practices and considerations for equipment of the modern office, including computer glasses, monitor and display colour, mouse, chair, sit-stand desk, wrist rests and more. 

eOfficeErgo: Ergonomics e-learning for office workers

An evidence-based and standard-compliant online training program from the Institute for Work and Health on the proper way to set up and work at office workstations in order to prevent MSD and other injuries. 






MSD prevention site factsheet

What's New? 


We are working to continuously develop the MSD Prevention Guideline. Watch for new content, including more resources and case studies.



MSD prevention site factsheet



Download the factsheet introducing the MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario website.


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Case Studies 


Read success stories and case studies about preventing MSD. These stories may apply to your workplace and help you make the right decision.



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Frequently asked questions. There are lots of myths about preventing MSD at work. With good information and actions, MSD can be prevented.




WSIB's Health and Safety Excellence Program


Why join?


Keeping your team safe and healthy at work is good for business. WSIB's Health and Safety Excellence program provides a clear roadmap to improve safety in your workplace, whether you're just getting started or want to improve systems and processes you already have in place.


No matter how large or small your business is, the Health and Safety Excellence program can help. Connect with a WSIB-approved provider who can help you address your business’s unique health and safety challenges – and you can earn rebates for the work you do to improve your workplace health and safety. 


Check out the Health and Safety Excellence Program website for more information on the program and the benefits.



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DISCLAIMER: CRE-MSD receives funding through a grant provided by the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.

Workplace Solutions to Back Pain, Shoulder Tendinitis, Tennis Elbow & Other Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD):
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