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Cal State L.A.


Self Evaluation

Pain Scale

When pain is present, it is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Remember, our activities are cumulative in each area of the body. If you are using your hands and arms in a repetitive activity at home – like painting or knitting – then type all day at work, you are at a greater risk of an ergonomic injury.

The following is a pain scale that is a guideline for how to treat the problem:





Description of each level of pain Doesn’t affect ability to do any activities. Pain is minor and is present only during an activity; not after. Pain persistent enough to alter one’s behavior and performance. Residual discomfort after activity is completed. Unable to do normal activities due to pain.
What actions should you take? Use this website to make sure your workstation is ergonomically correct and you are working in a neutral posture. Same as MINOR. Seek ergonomic consultation if pain persists after changes are made or seek medical treatment. Seek medical treatment. Contact the RM/EHS Department ext 3-3531

If you experience recurrent, persistent or worsening discomfort, especially if the discomfort includes pain, numbness or weakness, promptly consult a qualified physician. The earlier a problem is correctly diagnosed and treated, the easier it is to take care of and less chance there is that it will progress to a disabling condition.

Evaluation Checklist


  1. Do you have enough room on your work surface for all your computer accessories?
  2. Is your desk surface deep enough to provide at least 18" between your eyes and the computer screen?
  3. Are your most frequently accessed items (e.g., phone, manuals, etc.) easy to reach?
  4. If your desk has a fixed height, is the keyboard tray adjustable?
  5. Have you removed all under-desk obstructions?
  6. Do you have a document holder to hold paper for prolonged computer inputting?
  7. Do our arms rest on, or contact any sharp or square edges on your work surfaces?
  8. If a large percentage of your time involves using a phone do you use a phone headset?
  9. Is your source light out of your line of sight?


  1. Is your chair height adjustable?
  2. Is your chair back adjustable up and down?
  3. Is your chair back contoured to support the lower back?
  4. Is your backrest large enough to support your entire back, but not interfere with the use of your arms?
  5. Is your lumbar support a minimum of 12" wide?
  6. Is there room (2-4") between the front edge of the seat pan and the back of your knees?
  7. If your feet do not rest flat on the floor when your chair is properly adjusted, do you use a footrest?
  8. Is the top of your footrest covered with a non-skid material to reduce slippage?
  9. Do your chair arms interfere with you getting close to your work?
  10. Do your chair arms allow you to sit with your shoulders relaxed and not elevated?
  11. Does your chair have removable armrests?
  12. Is the distance between your armrests adjustable?
  13. Are your knees bent forming approximately a 90 degree or greater angle?
  14. Does the chair have a stable base supported by five legs with casters?


  1. Is the viewing distance to your computer monitor somewhere between 18" - 30"?
  2. Is the top of your computer screen at or just below eye level?
  3. If you wear bifocals or trifocals, can you see the computer monitor without having to tilt your head back to read the screen or other items in your work area?
  4. Is your computer monitor free of glare or reflections?
  5. Is the monitor screen clean?
  6. Is character size easy to read?
  7. Do you have blinds on the windows near your computer?
  8. Do you use a glare screen to reduce glare on your monitor?


  1. With your chair adjusted properly is your work surface at approximately elbow level?
  2. Are your shoulders relaxed and not elevated when you work at your work surface?
  3. Is the height of your keyboard low enough so your arms are relaxed at your side?
  4. When you address your work surface to type or write is there approximately a 90 degree angle between your forearms and upper arms and are your elbows close to your body?
  5. When you address your work surface to type are your wrist in line with your forearms and not bent upwards, downwards, or side-to-side?
  6. Do you have a wrist rest to support your wrists in a straight and neutral position?

Mouse, Trackball, or Other Input Device

  1. Is your mouse, trackball, or other input device (i.e., touchpad, etc.) located directly in our immediate reach zone?
  2. Is your mouse or trackball positioned next to your keyboard?
  3. Is your mouse or trackball placed together with our keyboard on an adjustable work surface or tray?
  4. Is our mouse work surface stable?
  5. Is the mouse or trackball at the same level as your keyboard?

Work Habits

  1. Do you take short and frequent breaks every 20-30 minutes?
  2. Do you frequently change body positions while working?
  3. Do you provide your eyes with vision breaks every half hour?
  4. Are you free from experiencing any pain or discomfort while working?




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Last Update: 08/22/2012