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Today's computer workstation has few hazards other than ergonomic that the typical worker will be exposed to if all components are functioning properly. Many injuries or illnesses associated with a computer workstation will be of an ergonomic nature and thus may be difficult to diagnose. Accurate and timely recording as outlined in OSHA's Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements Safety and Health Topics Page can be a useful means of proactive intervention.

OSHA has no specific standards that apply to computer workstations or extremely low frequency electric and magnetic field exposure. Existing OSHA standards on electrical safety, radiation exposure, and noise apply to all workplaces including office environments. In most cases, only a few general industry standards such as electrical or radiation hazards may apply.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to computer workstations.

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness (29 CFR 1904)

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Standard Interpretations

Hazards and Solutions

Many who use a computer at work or home may be unaware of workstation situations that can increase their risk of development of injury. The following references aid in recognizing potential hazards associated at computer workstations and give possible solutions to address those hazards.

Hazard Recognition

  • Computer Workstations. OSHA eTool. Includes new material developed by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Also, incorporates a checklist to assist the computer user with evaluation of their workstation and with purchasing of new equipment.

  • A Survival Guide to Computer Workstations [18 KB PDF, 5 pages]. Occupational Health, Safety, and Education (OHSE), Ohio State University. Presents hazard and radiation information.

  • NIOSH Publications on Video Display Terminals. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 99-135, (1999, September). Provides a compendium of NIOSH publications and reports on video display terminals (VDTs).

  • An Office Building Occupants Guide to Indoor Air Quality. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), (1997, October). Also available as a 52 KB PDF, 8 pages. Identifies factors that contribute to indoor air quality and issues that affect occupant comfort and productivity. Includes tips for office managers and tenants who think their building may have indoor air quality problems.

  • Building Air Quality (BAQ): A Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), (1991, December). Provides practical suggestions on preventing, identifying, and resolving indoor air quality (IAQ) problems in public and commercial buildings.

Possible Solutions

  • Office Ergonomics Guide. Safety Office, University of Waterloo.

  • OSH Answers: Office Ergonomics. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). Provides a searchable database for health and safety information on a variety of topics in an office workstation. Provides navigational links on specific topics, such as "positioning the monitor" or "wrist rests".

  • Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders - Computer Keyboards & Video Display Terminals. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic.

  • Evaluating your computer workstation: How to make it work for you [181 KB PDF, 48 pages]. Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR-OSHA). Identifies health considerations for video display terminals (VDTs) and workstation use, how to evaluate a workstation, and various measures that can be taken to reduce associated worker health problems.

  • Study Finds Strategic Rest Breaks Reduce VDT Discomforts Without Impairing Productivity. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Update, (2000, May 22). Summarizes a report showing that short, strategically spaced rest breaks can reduce eyestrain and musculoskeletal discomforts for video display terminal operators without decreasing productivity.

  • Alternative Keyboards [471 KB PDF, 17 pages]. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-148, (1997, January). Explains the differences between alternative and regular keyboards, and provides information on whether alternative keyboards prevent injuries.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Other Resources


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