This policy outlines the requirements for schools to prevent and manage musculoskeletal disorders and the risks associated with ergonomic and workspace hazards.


  • Ergonomics involves designing tasks, jobs, equipment and the working environment so that work can be performed in a comfortable, productive and safe way.
  • The principal or their delegate, in consultation with relevant school staff and health and safety representatives (HSR) where elected, must identify and assess risk factors in work design and ergonomics that may contribute to workspace related injuries, including musculoskeletal disorders and postural discomfort.
  • Principals or their delegates must use controls to prevent or minimise the associated risk of injury.
  • All school staff must take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and that of others, when setting up and using workstations and workspaces, including safe use of equipment and reporting ergonomic hazards.
  • Workstation checklists offer school staff practical advice to correctly assess and set up their workstation, including laptop and desk setup.
  • The OHS Advisory Service and regional OHS support officers can provide advice on managing risks related to ergonomic and workspace hazards in schools.
  • The Ergonomics and Workspace Procedure (in the Procedure tab) explains how to identify ergonomic hazards and includes guidance that schools can use to manage associated risk.


The way workspaces, such as school offices and classrooms, and workstation equipment, such as laptops, keyboards and desks, are designed and used can have a major impact on the user’s health and wellbeing. Human factors, including working posture and movement breaks, are equally as important as workspace design for injury prevention in the workplace.

A well-designed workspace containing equipment that is fit for purpose supports productivity, reduces the risk of an injury or illness, and minimises fatigue and discomfort. This is particularly important for school staff that require workplace adjustments to perform the requirements of their role safely, such as staff:

  • with disability
  • with pre-existing conditions
  • who are pregnant
  • who are returning to work following an injury or illness.

This policy includes limited information around workspaces with regards to safe manual handling, purchasing of new equipment, and working alone, in isolation or from home. This policy must be read in conjunction with the Manual Handling policy, OHS Purchasing policy and Working Alone, in Isolation or from Home policy where required.

For further information on other adjustments for school staff with a disability to injury refer to the Disability and Reasonable Adjustments policy and the Workers’ Compensation topic.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 (Vic)External Link , managing the risks related to ergonomic and workspace environments is a shared responsibility between the department, the principal or their delegate and school staff.

Department roles and responsibilities

The department must, so far as is reasonably practicable, maintain a safe and healthy working environment for school staff to prevent ergonomic and workspace related injuries in schools and where school staff are required to work from home.

Principal or delegate roles and responsibilities

The principal or their delegate, in consultation with the health and safety representative (HSR) and school staff, must identify, assess and control the risks that are associated with ergonomic and workspace hazards.

School staff roles and responsibilities

School staff must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions while at work, which includes preventing, identifying, reporting and managing ergonomic and workspace hazards and risks.

The principal or their delegate must:

  • prevent, identify and manage ergonomic and workspace hazards and risks in consultation with relevant school staff and HSRs
  • assess new or complex ergonomic hazards and document findings in the school’s OHS risk register where relevant
  • provide equipment and workplace adjustments to workspaces as required
  • ensure that all school staff have completed the mandatory eLearning module on LearnEDExternal Link (‘Hazardous Manual Handling and Ergonomics’), which must be completed as part of their induction and refreshed every 2 years and as required.

The Ergonomics and Workspace Procedure in the Procedure tab contains detailed, step-by-step information about how schools can meet these key requirements.

Department supports for schools

Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and school staff to be safe and well. These include access to the OHS Advisory Service and regional OHS support officers who can provide advice and support in relation to preventing ergonomic and workspace related injuries through the use of workstation checklists and completing ergonomic assessments.

Using eduSafe PlusExternal Link to report and manage hazards identified allows OHS support officers to provide assistance and advice. Guidance for reporting and managing hazards on eduSafe Plus is located in the How to report a workplace hazard guide (PDF)External Link on the knowledge base in eduSafe Plus. For more general information on OHS risk management, refer to the OHS Risk Planning and Management policy.


Agile working environment
Type of work environment designed around complete flexibility. Unlike a traditional workspace – where staff are permanently assigned to desks – an agile workplace encourages staff to move freely around the workspace, making use of whichever space suits their objectives at that time.

The process of designing an environment to suit an individual’s physical and mental needs.

Ergonomic assessment
Assessment of a staff member at their workstation and workspace to ensure correct working postures and workstation set-up.

Ergonomic hazard
An ergonomic hazard is a physical factor in a work system or environmental design that can lead to stress on the human body causing musculoskeletal injury.

Examples include:

  • poor work design that promotes sustained awkward posture, repetition and lack of recovery time
  • static or sedentary work
  • environmental factors such as lack of space, poor lighting and noise.

Expert assessor
Ergonomist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or trained professional who is qualified to perform an analysis on a staff member’s work environment and make appropriate recommendations.

Musculoskeletal disorder
An injury or illness that affects muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage or spinal discs and usually occurs due to a strenuous and/or repetitive activity.

Work design
The design of jobs, job tasks, and roles to ensure work is practical, efficient and safe.

A place where staff are or are likely to be during the course of their work. This includes attendance at offsite locations or travel in a vehicle during the course of work.

Workplace adjustment
A modification to a work process, practice, procedure or setting that enables an employee to perform their job in a way that minimises the impact of barriers they face at work.

A defined area within a workspace where staff will carry out a particular work task, such as using a laptop or computer.

The place where staff will perform daily work tasks, includes the work area and surrounding space, lighting, noise and thermal control.

Work organisation
The way work is planned, organised and managed. This includes patterns of work, distribution of workload, work communication and interaction with others at work, as well as broader work industry influences.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on reducing risk of musculoskeletal disorders associated with ergonomic arrangements and work design in schools

Reviewed 30 April 2024

Policy last updated

22 March 2024


  • Schools
  • School councils


OHS Advisory Service

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