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Office Ergonomics Checklist

12 July 2013

Office Ergonomics Checklist

Posture - Activity - Exercise

  • Maintain proper posture, paying careful attention to positioning of head, neck/spine, arms/wrists, hips/thighs and feet. Basically, ensure the small of your back is supported, your shoulders relaxed (not slumped, not elevated), and that there is no pressure under your thighs.
  • Alternate between different postures on a regular basis.
  • When keyboarding, use minimum force while striking the keys.
  • Keep a neutral position, where the forearms, wrists and hands are in a straight line.
  • Avoid awkward reaching for work tools such as telephone, mouse and reference materials.
  • Avoid resting elbows, forearms or wrists on hard surfaces or sharp edges.
  • Take frequent mini-breaks throughout the day to give muscles and joints a chance to rest and recover.
  • Alternate between work activities which use different muscle groups to avoid overuse.
  • Give eyes a break by closing them momentarily, gazing at a distant object and blinking frequently.
  • Proper exercises are a complement to a complete office ergonomics program. Consult with us to select appropriate exercises. 

Lighting - Air - Noise

  • Maintain appropriate light levels for specific tasks. More illumination is usually needed to read a document than a computer screen.
  • Reduce or eliminate glare by using window shades, diffusers on overhead lighting and anti-glare filters for computers.
  • Adjust the contrast and brightness on your computer screen to a comfortable level.
  • Get a regular eye exam and if necessary, wear corrective lenses. Tell your eye specialist how often you use the computer.
  • Clean the computer screen and other surfaces regularly.
  • Reduce the number of dust collecting items like papers and files on your desk.
  • If necessary, use a portable air cleaner to reduce airborne particles like dust, pollen and mold.
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature by using layers of clothing or a portable fan or heater.
  • Be considerate to others working in the area and conduct meetings and conversations in appropriate areas.
  • Position fabric partitions to reduce noise from conversations, foot traffic and equipment, like copiers and printers.
  • Identify distracting noises and try headphines, ear plugs, soft music or a quiet fan to reduce or mask the noise. 

Work Style - Organization - Breaks

  • Reduce stress by planning ahead and setting realistic expectations for what you can accomplish during the workday.
  • Organize your workload to help even out busy and slow times, to avoid feeling "swamped".
  • Vary tasks to make the day more interesting. For example, deliver a message in person instead of phoning.
  • Avoid long periods of repetitive activity. For example, alternate computer work with other tasks like phone calls, filing, copying and meetings.
  • Organize equipment, supplies and furniture in the most efficient arrangement for daily tasks.
  • Enhance privacy by using office partitions and privacy filters for computer screens or documents.
  • Acknowledge ideas and accomplishments of co-workers on a regular basis.
  • Develop stress reduction and relaxation techniques which work for you at the office and at home.
  • Personalize your office with a few favorite items, like artwork, photos and plants.
  • Take mini-breaks that re-energize, invigorate and refresh.
  • Follow these same ergonomic guidelines at home, in meetings and while travelling. 


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Office Ergonomics

4 July 2013

Office Ergonomics

Office ergonomics is concerned with the way in which an office worker interacts with the office environment. A large percentage of the working population, work in offices these days and office ergonomics is more important today than it has ever been. You may often hear people complain about back, shoulder and neck problems as well as headaches however rarely are the symptoms connected with how the person works.

Office ergonomics is the study of how the person is working and its aim is to drastically reduce pain and discomfort by ensuring that the persons environment is set up correctly. It could be as simple as the way in which a person sits at their desk or the position of the desk in relation to the chair. It is estimated that only 1 in 8 of the injuries office workers suffer are reported often times because they do not make the association. In some cases they simply take sick leave and assume that the issue will go away.

It is important for organisations to have an office ergonomics strategy that goes beyond having an untrained internal member of staff perform some minor checks. A well structure office ergonomics program will always pay for itself by helping to increase productivity and reduce sick leave due to injury. Organisations should also ensure that they provide ergonomic office advice to those staff working from home as employers are responsible for staff injuries obtained while working regardless of where the injuries occur.

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Ergonomic Info

12 June 2013

Ergonomic Info


In all working environments the lighting situation needs to be considered.

The Australian Standard AS 1680, Standard AS 1680.2.2 - 1994 Interior lighting Part 2.2: Office and screen-based tasks suggests lighting levels in an office environment as follows;

  • "Ordinary" visual tasks should be in range 300 to 400 lux [320 lux (task) and 160 lux (Background)]. Illumination is measured in units of LUX - lumens per square metre
  • For more demanding visual tasks, including proof reading and working from poor quality photocopies, 600 lux is suitable
  • Older workers may require stronger lighting

 Options for adjusting lighting include:

  •  Positioning of the monitor to the side of window light and/or in between overhead light sources.
  • To minimise glare, avoid placement of desks directly underneath light sources and ensure the screen or the operator do not face an unshielded window.
  • Removal or reallocation of lighting sources such as one fluorescent from a bank of two can assist where excess glare is noted.
  • Clean lights and diffusers regularly. Lights deteriorate with age and accumulate dirt over their surface. Fluorescent light flicker indicates that either the tube or the starter needs replacing. Contact the Facilities management office service desk to arrange for replacement of fluorescent lights.
  • Aim for even illumination between adjacent areas.
  • Extra task lighting can be added but should not have hard edges or directly impinge on the computer user’s view or reflect onto the computer screen.
  • "Anti-glare" Screen Filters- Where all other efforts to correct lighting have not succeeded, use of a screen filter may be necessary. A trial of the filter before purchase is recommended where possible. Regular cleaning is also recommended.


  • Excessive noise may increase staff stress and fatigue. General noise may be reduced by floor carpeting and by locating office areas away from sources of external noise. The recommended decibel range for office work is 55 to 65 dBA.
  • Hard surfaces such as glass walls or white boards will act to increase the reflection of noise.
  • Telephone or other conversations can be distracting in open plan offices. Sound absorbing barriers may be considered if such noise is a problem.
  • Some office groups follow their own "low noise rules".
  • Some office machines have high noise levels. Supervisors should ensure their location, patterns and vicinity to staff are such as to prevent problems.


  • OHSIM have developed some Guidelines on Indoor Thermal Comfort.
  • Temperature, air movement and humidity influence how comfortable an office becomes, particularly when sedentary tasks are performed. There are considerable differences between individuals in their preference for thermal comfort and it is unlikely that one temperature will suit everyone.
  • Locating workstations so that the individual is not sitting close to, under, or in front of an air conditioning outlet may prevent staff being affected by draughts.
  • Please refer to the guidelines on Room Heaters.
  • Campus Infrastructure Services have also developed a Policy on Air Conditioning.

Air Quality

  • Some workers may be sensitive to changes in air quality.
  • Air quality can be affected by activities such as dust from construction work and fumes from carpet laying.
  • If you notice symptoms relating to skin or eye irritation or breathing difficulties that could be associated with such events, notify your supervisor. Contact will need to be made with the area responsible to investigate when the process at hand will be complete and if the area cannot be avoided contact Risk Management to review further.

Furniture and Storage

  • Adequate personal space and storage for staff needs to be considered to prevent fatigue due to constrained postures or movements
  • Correct placement of furniture in a work area ensures staff are not tempted to twist or reach with items over 4 kgs
  • It is preferable to place a secondary work space outside the maximum reach area so that staff are required to stand and move around to reach items that should not be lifted whilst sitting
  • Standing and moving to a position within easy reach of an object is preferable to over-stretching when reaching for objects located beyond maximum reach
  • Appropriate height and sufficient shelving can also reduce the need to bend or reach excessively to gather or store items
  • Avoid repeated use of poor spinal postures when sideways reaching and leaning down to the mobile drawer unit.
  • Store heavy items eg water bottles, reams of paper on shelves around waist level
  • Avoid storing frequently used items near floor level or above shoulder height
  • 4.5 kg is the maximum acceptable load to be lifted in the seated position
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Working in a Cubicle

30 May 2013

Working in a Cubicle

It can be difficult to stay focused while working in a cubical in an open office environment. These tips are designed to help reduce the interruptions from other staff.

A client who works in a cubicle in an open concept office recently emailed asking: 

“Do you know of some nice ways to tell people to buzz off when they interrupt you? I'm out in the open and am constantly interrupted while on deadline. I think this is a common problem for cubicle workers who don't have a door. The nature of my position involves having internal clients who feel they have a right to interrupt me at any time as they feel their project is most important. 

My boss and I interrupt each other all the time so we're trying to navigate that and are trying phrases like "let me finish this thought" or “I'll come see you when I'm ready”. 

I face a high traffic hallway so as people walk by I'll usually look and mostly smile. My biggest struggle is when I'm focused and people walk right up and lean over my desk and just start talking to me. That annoys me the most. Can't you see that I'm working here!! One woman gives me heck when I'm at my desk working and have my calls forwarded!” 

Some solutions to counteract this problem are to consider one or more of the following:

  • create an artificial barrier to give the message i.e. rearrange your desk so you back is to the traffic, buy a plant or vase that blocks your view, move   desk accessories or other objects to create a low wall
  • send an email around to “the team” letting them know you are under deadline and need to have uninterrupted time
  • ask your supervisor if you can work in the board room or other secluded spot while working on a deadline 

If someone approaches your desk and wants to interrupt your work, try one of the following approaches:

  • I’m sorry, but if this isn’t urgent, can you email me?
  • I am swimming with the sharks today – can this wait?
  • Sorry – no time to talk – lets do lunch next week.
  • I would love to talk more about your project but I’d need to schedule the time to talk with you. Can we set an appointment for [state time and date or get out your datebook]

The key is reducing interruptions in a cubicle is to take a stay professional and get your point across with assertive, not aggressive communication style. Show your respect for their needs but also respect your deadlines by not allowing interruptions to side track your progress.

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