Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Sit stand desks

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Further information

Book an Ergonomic Assessment

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For further information, please contact UWA's Health and Wellbeing Officer on (+61 8) 6488 4683.

This page provides guidance for those interested in sit-stand workstations.

  1. Health information on sitting
  2. Tips for sitting less in the workplace
  3. Sit-stand workstation considerations
  4. Sit-stand workstations relating to an injury or medical condition
  5. Setting up a sit-stand desk

Health information on sitting

Sedentariness is a term used to describe activity that requires very low energy expenditure. In the workplace, sedentary behaviour is most often seen in the form of sitting at a desk – more often using a computer.

There is a growing body of evidence that high levels of sedentary behaviour and sitting in particular are emerging risk factors for chronic disease. Given this, the Heart Foundation recommends that adults aim to reduce the total amount of time they sit during the day and avoid prolonged periods of sitting. See the Sitting Less for Adults Fact Sheet.

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Tips for sitting less at work

There are many simple changes you can make to reduce the time you spend sitting at work. Introducing a height-adjustable workstation (or sit-stand desk) is just one. 

Ways to sit less at work include:

  • Stand up during meetings
  • Conduct standing meetings or add one or more standing agenda items
  • Stand and take a break from your computer every 30 minutes
  • Stand during phone calls (considering ordering a headset)  
  • Eat your lunch away from your desk
  • Move your bin away from your desk
  • Conduct walking meetings where appropriate
  • Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of phoning or emailing 
  • Drink more water
  • Use the stairs
  • Stand to greet a visitor
  • Go for a short walk at lunchtime
  • Stand at the back of the room during long presentations
  • Have standing morning teas for social functions.

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Sit-stand workstation considerations for employees and supervisors

  • Sit-stand workstations are one of a variety of ways to reduce sedentariness. They shouldn’t be considered a ‘fix all’ for obtaining adequate physical activity over the course of the day and should be supplemented with a healthy lifestyle and other strategies for sitting less.
  • Sit-stand workstations can in some instances aggravate existing injuries/medical conditions or present a risk for new injury. It is important that the implementation of a sit-stand desk is in line with an employee's treating health practitioner's recommendations.
  • The cost of a sit-stand workstation, any office modifications required, and additional assistive equipment will need to be met by the individual or work area (as negotiated) unless a sit-stand workstation is recommended by a medical professional in relation to treating injury or a medical condition. In the case of no clinical recommendation, the employee/work area should coordinate the purchase independently. Consideration should be given to current office configuration, space/storage requirements, electrical and IT requirements.

Considering a sit-stand workstation in relation to an injury or medical condition

In this instance employees should take the following steps: 

  1. Schedule an ergonomic assessment with an Ergonomics Advisor through the UWA online booking system. The Ergonomics Advisor will:
    • Assess the employee’s current workstation set-up, job demands and impact of any medical conditions on their work capacity. An assessment report with recommendations will be sent following this. 
    • Outline in their assessment report whether a sit-stand workstation is indicated. This recommendation is based around physical requirement and suitability rather than employee preference for a sit-stand workstation.
    • Provide a Clinical Recommendation Form to be completed by the employee’s treating health practitioner outlining their opinion on the suitability of a sit-stand workstation, medical conditions that may be contraindicated and recommendations for implementation. 
  2. Complete and return the Clinical Recommendation Form to Safety, Health and Wellbeing who will review and consider recommendations from the health practitioner.
  3. Where clinically indicated, Safety, Health and Wellbeing will coordinate the purchase and installation of a suitable model, in liaison with the employee. In this instance, costs will be met by UWA.

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Setting up a sit-stand desk

Once the sit-stand workstation has been received and installed, consideration should be given to:

  • Ergonomic positioning for both sitting and standing 
  • Electronically pre-setting the sitting and standing heights if the function is available
  • Regular postural breaks, every 20-30 minutes when sitting or standing (or as recommended by treating allied health professional)
  • Alternating between sitting and standing on a regular basis, every 45-60 minutes (or as recommended by treating allied health professional)
  • Using a footstool to alternate weight bearing while standing
  • Wearing flat, supportive footwear and use of an anti-fatigue mat
  • Other safety considerations – including cable management, electrical access, office layout – access and egress, safe storage of furniture not in use, and manual handling requirements involved in adjusting workstation height and equipment.

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More information

For more information contact UWA's Health and Wellbeing Officer on (+61 8) 6488 4683.