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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

DOL Logo OSHA National News Release

U.S. Department of Labor

National News Release: USDL 99-104
Tuesday, April 20, 1999
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming 202-693-1999


What do secretaries really need for Secretary's Day? How about a safe work environment? The Labor Department recommends bosses give their secretaries a special gift on April 21--an ergonomic review of their work stations.

In its publication, "Memo to the Boss," the Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers tips for setting up work stations to fit workers. It suggests ways identified by OSHA to reduce the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders associated with awkward postures and repetitive motion.

"Many employers provide flexible work stations for their secretaries--with well-designed chairs, adjustable keyboards and movable computer monitors," said Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. "All that's needed is a boss who cares enough to take the time to help. A few minutes can lower a secretary's risk of injury and at the same time boost productivity. That could make a world of difference to the worker and ultimately to the boss as well."

Good office design includes an adjustable chair, adjustable working surfaces, a properly positioned computer and document holder and good lighting to minimize glare. To prevent injury and enhance productivity, secretaries who spend most of their time at the computer also need to take frequent "micro breaks" to rest eyes, shift positions, stretch and move around the office. Standing while talking on the phone or performing other tasks also can be beneficial.

Simple stretching exercises can help relieve stress and stiffness in arms, shoulder, neck and back. Organizing a work area so that materials used frequently are right at hand reduces awkward reaches. Keeping the area underneath the desk free from clutter enables secretaries to stretch their legs and shift position easily.

"Memo to the Boss" (attached) is also available on the ergonomics page on OSHA's Internet site at http://www.osha.gov. In addition, single copies can be obtained from OSHA Publications, telephone 202-693-1888.


The text of this news release is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-693-1999.


To:The Boss
From: OSHA
Subject: Secretaries Day

April 21, 1999

Your secretary--your right hand assistant--is your greatest resource. Good secretaries take good care of their bosses. Take good care of your secretary by providing a safe and healthful work station. For maximum comfort and productivity, OSHA recommends:

Bosses Provide

1.An adjustable chair with good back support and a desk with keyboard, mouse and writing surface at a comfortable height.

2.A document holder at the same height as the computer screen to permit comfortable neck and head positions.

3.Computer screen placed about eye level, 18 to 24 inches from body, to minimize neck strain.

4.Good lighting that minimizes glare.

5.A speaker phone or headset if the job requires extensive telephone use during typing sessions.

Secretaries Take Charge

6.Check posture--sitting up straight really matters! Keep shoulders relaxed, thighs parallel to the floor and feet flat on the floor.

7.Take frequent "micro" rest breaks. Shift from one sitting position to another. Breathe deeply. Look away from the screen. Focus eyes across the room. Stand up and stretch. Get up and walk to the other side of the office.

8.Exercise--right at the work station. Stretch out fingers. Raise shoulders. Stretch arms with hands linked together above the head. Repeat exercises several times throughout the day.

9.Hold wrists straight while typing and set the keyboard at elbow height. When not typing, writing or using the mouse, relax hands in the lap.

10.Place the mouse next to the keyboard and keep other materials used frequently--such as the telephone and keyboard--close by. Use the full arm, not just the wrist to move the mouse. Switch hands occasionally to give the primary hand a rest.

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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