Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

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Workstation Components Telephones


Many office tasks today are centered around telephones and computers as key workstation components. For example, employees making reservations may take information from customers and transfer it into the computer. They may also receive information from the computer and relay it to customers by telephone.

Telephones add to the convenience of a workstation; however, telephones have cords that can get tangled up, and can cause the user to assume awkward postures. Consider the following to help prevent musculoskeletal disorders.

Telephone Quick Tips

  • Use a speaker phone or head set for long conversations.
  • Keep it close enough to avoid repeated reaching.
Figure 1. Awkward posture during telephone use

Figure 1. Awkward posture during telephone use

Potential Hazards:

Placing the telephone too far away can cause you to repeatedly reach, resulting in strain on the shoulder, arm, and neck.

Possible Solutions:

  • Place the telephone in the primary or secondary work zone, depending on usage patterns. This will minimize repeated reaching, reducing the possibility of injury.
  • Keep the telephone cord out of working areas so it does not create a tripping hazard.
Figure 2. Conventional headset

Figure 2. Conventional headset

Potential Hazards:

Prolonged conversations with the phone pinched between your shoulder and head (Figure 1) may cause stress and neck pain.

Possible Solutions:

Use a "hands-free" head set (Figure 2) if you plan to spend a lot of time on the phone. Speaker phone options may also be appropriate, provided the volume of this feature does not annoy your co-workers.

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