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Awkward seated postures and lengthy periods of sitting may increase your risk of injury. It is important that you are comfortable while sitting, as remaining in an awkward seated posture can increase your fatigue level, tighten muscles, or irritate nerves. When your body is fatigued or in discomfort, the risk of injury increases, and productivity and accuracy decrease. An awkward seated posture is especially risky if it is combined with lengthy periods of sitting, or other awkward body postures, and eventually you may have trouble doing even simple tasks, such as reaching for the telephone.

When you remain in the same seated posture for a long time, your blood flow slows down and you may begin to feel tired. The muscles in your neck, shoulders, and back become fatigued. Recognize opportunities to get out of your chair and move around. Instead of reaching up to the overhead bin, stand up. Instead of reaching to the printer, place the printer farther away so you must get up and walk to it. Stand up to take a phone call. Moving around keeps the blood flowing and prevents muscle fatigue and cramping.

When your chair is properly adjusted
1a-b. Your feet are resting comfortably on the floor or on a footrest, and your knees are slightly lower than your hips.
2.      There is a 2- 4-inch gap between the back of your knees and the front edge of the chair when your back is against the chair.
3.      The curve of the chair back fits into the deepest part of the curve in your lower back.
4.      The back of the chair is upright or tilted back for comfort.
5.      Armrests are adjusted so that they are just slightly below your elbows when your shoulders are relaxed.
6.      Armrests do not interfere with access to keying, mousing, or writing surfaces.

You may need to adjust the height of your chair every day, depending upon the job task, and the shoes you are wearing (the higher the heels, the higher the chair will be raised). If the seat pan height is changed, the keyboard and monitor will need to be adjusted, as well.

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Department of Industrial Relations   Cal/OSHA Consultation Service   Research and Education Unit