Office ergonomics

Office ergonomics looks at the optimal design of office systems to ensure the health, safety, comfort and productivity of their users, predominantly office employees. It includes the design of jobs, the organization of work, the duration of sitting or standing at work, the layout of the office, and the design and set-up of office workstations—chairs, desks, computers, keyboards, lighting and more. IWH research in this area focuses on office ergonomics training and implementation.

Two men lift heavy furniture off a truck
At Work article

Emerging evidence points to negative health effects of physical work demands

Recent studies are suggesting physically demanding work can have negative effects on workers’ cardiovascular health. At a recent IWH Speaker Series presentation, Associate Scientist Dr. Avi Biswas discussed how workplaces and policy-makers can help.
Published: July 2021
The back of a male worker, hauling a load in a warehouse setting
Research Highlights

Examining the link between leisure-time exercise and physically demanding work on diabetes risk

Workers in sedentary jobs who meet physical activity guidelines of at least 150 minutes a week have a 37 per cent lower chance of developing diabetes over 15 years, compared to people in the same types of jobs but who do less exercise. Meeting physical activity guidelines is less beneficial for people whose jobs involve movement or high physical demands (such as lifting heavy loads).
Published: April 2021
NSC Safety + Health
IWH in the media

Sitting or standing too much at work? New video addresses ways to lower associated health risks

Sitting or standing for prolonged periods may adversely affect workers’ health, according to several recent studies. So, what should workers do? In a video titled Sitting or standing? Which is best?, two IWH researchers behind the studies answer that question to help clarify their recent research.
Published: Safety + Health, December 2018

Sitting or standing? Which is best?

If you’re confused by seemingly duelling headlines about the negative health effects of prolonged sitting and prolonged standing, this video may help clear things up. Two of the scientists behind these headlines work at the Institute for Work & Health, so we put them before the camera, side by side, to sort out the take-away message.
Published: November 2018
Journal article
Journal article

Is promoting six hours of standing an appropriate public health message?

Published: European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, March 2018
Journal article
The back of a cook in a restaurant kitchen
At Work article

Standing too long at work carries twice the risk of heart disease as sitting too long

There has been a lot of interest in recent years in the health risks of prolonged sitting. But a study by IWH and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences suggests you might spare a thought for people in jobs that mostly involve standing (e.g. cooks, tellers, cashiers).
Published: November 2017
The Guardian logo
IWH in the media

No, a standing desk isn't as unhealthy as smoking

A headline today has proclaimed that standing at work is “as unhealthy as a cigarette a day," citing a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Illustrated with a picture of a woman bent over her standing desk clutching at her back, we’re instructed to “sit back down." But a closer look at the research in question reveals very little to do with standing desks. In fact, the study did not look at standing desks at all, writes Suzi Gage.
Published: The Guardian, September 2017
Two female servers at a restaurant bar
Research Highlights

Prolonged standing on the job associated with higher risk of heart disease than prolonged sitting

Workers who predominantly stand on the job are at greater risk of heart disease than workers who predominantly sit. Workplace prevention efforts should target excessive standing, as well as excessive sitting, to protect the cardiovascular health of workers.
Published: September 2017
readers digest logo
IWH in the media

If you stand for too long at work, you could double your risk of this disease

Odds are, you already know about the scary things that sitting can do to your health. But we have some bad news: Your standing desk may be doing more harm than good, too, writes Brooke Nelson.
Published: Reader's Digest, September 2017