Cornell University Ergonomics Web

Performance Oriented Ergonomic Checklist For Computer (VDT) Workstations

(adapted from ErgoWeb,1996, by the Cornell University Human Factors Group, Dept. Design & Environmental Analysis, 1996)


Among Ergonomists there is general agreement with regard to proper computer workstation set-up, and the optimal body postures assumed by people performing tasks at the workstations. Unfortunately, quick and easy solutions to ergonomic problems, such as wrist rests, seldom help and sometimes they actually make matters worse. Likewise, recommending specific dimensions for workstations without knowledge of the anthropometrics of each user, the dimensions of equipment, and the nature of the work to be done can result in sub-optimal workstation arrangements. For more information on computer workstation arrangements check out the 10 tips page.

This performance oriented checklist is designed to help you to evaluate what is needed for a good ergonomic workstation arrangement. Specific dimensional constraints intentionally are omitted and replaced by a principles oriented approach for this checklist. A checklist is a guide to good decision making, not an end point in itself. No checklist alone is able to capture the interactions and complexities of all possible combinations of people, task, equipment, and work environment. However, use of this checklist, along with an understanding of the principles of Ergonomics, will allow you to identify workstations which need redesign work, and it will give you guidance on the goals of any workstation redesign that is required.

At a minimum, while using this checklist, remember that designing for ergonomics requires understanding and consideration of

The interaction between these general topics is critical, and will define the postures, forces, and repetitions assumed by the person(s). Remember, all parts of the body are linked together, and consequently a modification in one area may have significant effects in another, no single change can be performed without considering the effects on other areas. For example, lowering seat height so that someone may comfortably rest his/her feet on the floor may force a stressful upper body posture if the monitor position and table or keyboard height are not adjusted in concert (this is often a good reason to provide a footrest).

When using this checklist,

"NO" responses indicate conditions that may be associated with higher risk of illness/injury and steps should be taken to address the source of the problem. "YES" responses to questions indicate acceptable ergonomic design conditions.

VDT Posture Checklist


"NO"; answers to ANY posture question identify the item that may be contributing to ergonomic risk and this should be addressed immediately. For a more detailed and systematic analysis of postural risks this checklist should be followed up by undertaking a Rapid Upper Limb Assessment ( RULA) analysis of the worker's posture.

Lower Extremities

Upper Extremities

Is the person able to work with comfortable arm positions, or approximately:

Force Static Body Posture


Seat Surface

Seat Backrest


Computer Monitor (VDT)



Document Holder for Data Entry Tasks

Support for the Hands and Arms

Support for the Feet

Office Lighting





Electrostatic Electricity

Fatigue Control


Psycho-Social Issues

If you answered "NO" to any of the questions in the Worker section, administrative issues which may be contributing to ergonomic risk. A review of training and other administrative policies is recommended.

A note regarding "ANSI/HFES 100-1988, American National Standard for Human Factors Engineering of Visual Display Terminal Workstations."

The recommendations in "ANSI/HFES 100-1988, American National Standard for Human Factors Engineering of Visual Display Terminal Workstations.", while often relied upon for ergonomics guidance, are influenced more by anthropometry (body dimensions) than by the full spectrum of ergonomics principles that should guide the design of furniture, tools, equipment, and tasks for computer workstations. ANSI/HFES 100-1988 is centered around the "upright" sitting posture, sometimes referred to as the "90-90-90", or "90 degree" posture, indicating the approximate joint angles at the hip, knees, and elbows. This is not the only posture available for seated workers, not the only posture supported by furniture designed to be used for computer intensive work, and not a recommended working posture for sustained periods. ANSI/HFES 100-1988 is currently being revised, and is scheduled to be open for public review in the near future.

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