February Newsletter:

CSA Office Standards – What you should know


In December 2017, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) overhauled their CSA Guidelines on Office Ergonomics by changing it to a CSA Standard, ‘Office Ergonomics – An application standard for office ergonomics’ and addressing modern issues in the workplace including technology and sit-stand options.

This Standard outlines the requirements that employers should be aware of in order to protect their staff members and ensure proper workstation set-up and employee understanding. The overall goal is to minimize awkward postures and strain to the body, and reduce the risk and likelihood of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in an office environment. Here are some of the key takeaways and points to be aware of:

Training, Awareness, and Education

The Standard states “Users shall be trained on how to adjust furniture and arrange other aspects of their workstation (accessories and equipment)”. As an employer, it is important to provide all staff members with the appropriate training and education on office ergonomics to provide them with the tools necessary to be safe at work. More specifically, users should be trained on the following components:

  • Awareness of appropriate working heights and reach zones – This awareness will facilitate employee understanding of where and how to position certain accessories and equipment; for example, adjusting the keyboard and mouse to align with elbow height or ensuring frequently used office supplies are within the proper reach zone limits.
  • Importance of moving through multiple postures throughout the work day – The Standard recognizes five different references postures in the office: reclined sitting, upright sitting, forward tilt sitting, semi-standing, and standing. Employees should be educated on the importance of rotating between these postures to mitigate strain during work tasks.working postures for office ergonomics
  • Awareness of all adjustments/controls and how to use them – Employees should know how to use their adjustments AND what the optimal position/set-up is for each - for their body.
  • Potential health risks related to technology use and/or improper adjustment – It’s imperative that employees understand the risk to their own health and safety to allow them to make the appropriate corrective actions.

Movement at Work

walking around office

The Standard advocates for greater movement at work: “movement through multiple postures is paramount to enhance human health and well-being”. This may involve a sit-stand unit but in many cases, it’s really about changing postures through work organization and tasks including:

  • Incorporating standing/walking meetings
  • Visiting a colleague rather than emailing or calling
  • Taking the stairs rather than elevator
  • Drinking plenty of water

The question you should be asking yourself is: Have you systematically considered office ergonomics at your workplace that ensures you are in compliance with this standard? If you aren’t sure, here’s a handy checklist of things you should consider incorporating:

  1. MSD Prevention Policy/Program. It should include, at minimum, information about:
    • Training standards
    • Training frequency
    • Roles and responsibilities
    • Equipment standards/expectations (e.g. can you buy just anything, or does it need to meet a specific standard?)
    • How someone gets an assessment
  2. Office Ergonomic Training
  3. Office Ergonomic Equipment Purchasing Standards
  4. Office Ergonomic Assessments

Still not sure? We can help. Visit our Office Ergonomics page for more insight on how to be compliant with the CSA Z412-17.

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