Better behind your screens: general advices

The advices below apply to everybody who regularly works with (computer) screens. Always good to read over and remind yourself of.

There are various risks associated with computer work, which can all lead to complaints. To prevent complaints, all these risks must be limited. A good work station is therefore not sufficient if the workload is structurally too high or if you do not use the possibilities for alternating tasks and postures.

A well adjusted work station helps to work comfortably and efficiently with your screens. By clicking on the yellow circles on the picture below, you can find how to adjust your work station. If you do not know how to adjust your settings or if you are not sure if you adjusted it well, ask a colleague, the prevention officer or your manager for help. After adjusting your work station, take a comfortable posture; you do not have to sit just like the person on the picture. On the contrary, changing your posture frequently is very important!

Drawing of a person sitting behind a desk. In the drawing, the desk, screen, keypad and chair are marked


  • The screen should be positioned right in front of the user. This will give the least load or stress on your neck. If you work with two screens, the best position depends on the duration per screen. If you use one screen for active tasks and one screen for less active tasks, then you should place the most active screen right in front of you and the less active screen next to it, slightly slanted towards you. If you use both screens permanently, you should place the screens in a slight V shape, with the interface right in front of you.
  • Many screen are too high. It is better to place the top of the screen just below eye level and tilt the screen in a slanted position that you can look horizontally at the screen. A slightly downward direction of the eyes diminishes the chance of a bad neck position, is less fatiguing for the eyes and diminishes the chance of dry eyes.
  • Put your screen at a comfortable reading distance. Usually this is about 50 to 70 cm. With modern advanced screens you can put it closer to your eyes. Do you have reading glasses? Then it is even more important to put your screen at the right height and distance and to have regular breaks. The fact is that the use of reading glasses limits the choice of taking various body postures. Blinking regularly (or closing your eyes for a short moment) can also help to prevent getting dry and irritated eyes.
  • The screen should be large enough that you can see all the information that you need without having to click or drag with the mouse. You can alter this by adapting the settings of the software (ask your IT specialist if needed) or by using a bigger screen.
  • The lighting of your work station should be sufficient and be adapted to the nature of your work and your visual needs. Discuss this with your Prevention Officer or your manager and share your own solutions.
  • Use the sun blinds and/or brightness blinds to avoid bright light sources in your visual field. Avoid looking towards a window and avoid inconvenient glare, reflections and loss of contrast ratio. Light sources in your visual field may cause squeezing of your eyes or sitting in a collapsed position. Discuss possible solutions with the Prevention Officer or your manager and indicate if there are not enough possibilities to obstruct the inconvenient light.

To prevent complaints due to prolonged computer work, it is important that you alternate your posture frequently during the day. To be able to do so, you must know AND use the possibilities. You can look for variety in the type of work: mostly with the mouse or mostly reading, in the working posture: sitting, standing, regularly walking away from the work station. You can also vary with regard to your eye strain: regularly looking away from the screen. With intensive computer work (long-term uninterrupted task with a lot of reading, intensive mouse use or intensive typing), frequent short breaks, for example micro pauses of approximately 20 seconds, are important. Always try to actually take your coffee and lunch break and do not skip it. If you do not know enough on how to alternate or properly set up your workplace, discuss this with the prevention officer, your supervisor or bring it up in a team consultation.

Make sure that you create a good work station wherever you work for more than two hours (including at the customer’s or at home). Make use of the possibilities to adjust the furniture and ask for help if you are not sure how to adjust it yourself. When working with a laptop, an extra keyboard and if possible an extra screen are needed in order to set up the keyboard and screen separately. Also, use a separate mouse instead of the touchpad. If you work at home for more than 2 hours per day, the obligations that apply to a work station at the office also apply for your work station at home. Your employer must at least provide information about the risks and how to prevent them, but often other means are also provided or there is an additional payment to organize the workplace responsibly at home.

To avoid serious complaints, you must be alert to starting complaints. For instance complaints of muscles or joints, eye complaints, headache and complaints related to work pressure. If you suspect that these complaints are work related, discuss this with the prevention officer, your supervisor or the company doctor.

You can do exercises to prevent body aches and pains. There are exercises to relax in between but also exercises to make larger movements to alternate the static load on your muscles during computer work.

If you are using your mouse or keyboard intensively, skill training might be helpful. Think of developing your typing skills (blind typing) or learn how to use key shortcuts more often.

Offering information or a (-n update) training on healthy computer work, risks during computer work and correct working methods, is important for new employees or if tasks change radically.

If you think that a training can support you in working more efficiently and comfortably, ask the prevention officer or your supervisor for possibilities.

Sitting and the use of screens often also occurs in leisure time. Be aware that the same risks apply. It is therefore important to alternate postures after working hours, to create a good ‘workplace’ and to be alert to signs of starting complaints.