Safety at work

Most people spend more time at work than they do anywhere else. We have a range of support systems available and procedures in place to ensure staff are kept healthy and safe at all times.

To prevent musculoskeletal injuries, learn the correct workstation setup by completing the online Workstation Ergonomics module - now available in Discover in the Health and Safety section.

Setting up your workstation properly can reduce the risk of muscle strain or overuse injuries. Most of these injuries come from little things being maladjusted or performed incorrectly over a long period. Small changes such as adjusting the height of your chair or the distance of your monitor can make a significant difference.

It is important when you are working away from the office that you also consider how you are set up to work. Take a look at this video and tips available on our working from home page.

Set up your workstation correctly

Watch 'How to set up your workstation in the office.'

Please complete the Workstation Ergonomics online training in Discover and use the workplace ergonomic self-assessment checklist (PDF, 601KB) to review your workstation.

Chair – the correct chair is important. It should have an adjustable back and height and a five point base. When resting on the desktop your wrists should be at the same height or slightly below your elbows and your feet flat on the floor.

Monitor – the monitor needs to be directly in front of you and at eye level. It should also be at arm's length. If you are working with multiple monitors, see general guidelines (PDF, 86KB) for additional information.

Desk – your desk should be high enough to ensure your legs fit underneath and be set up so you don't have to lean for frequently used items such as your telephone, mouse and pens.

Telephone – put your telephone on the opposite side to your mouse and avoid pinching it between your shoulder and ear.

Mouse – your mouse should be within easy reach of the side of your keyboard.

Keyboard – the keyboard should be straight on the desk and the B key in line with the centre of your body.

Laptops – are designed for use for short periods and should not be your primary computer unless you have a docking station with monitor and keyboard.

Take breaks and re-adjust

It is important to take regular breaks to avoid stiffening, blurred vision or headaches. You should stop work to stretch at least three to four times a day. Help your eyes relax by doing vision exercises every 30 minutes.

Specialised help and equipment

If you experience pain or are not happy with how your workstation is set up, you can get an individual consultation from the Health and Safety Team. This team can help you with information on what can be done better or advise on customised equipment such as an ergonomic keyboard, footrest or telephone headset. All customised equipment is at the cost your area.

Manual handling is lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, lowering, throwing, carrying, packing, assembling, cleaning, sorting and using tools. If you use correct manual handling techniques you can avoid muscle strain and overuse injuries.

Where possible you should look at ways to limit the strain on your body such as using a trolley or asking a colleague for help.

The steps to proper manual handling are:

  1. size up the load
  2. ensure the area is clear
  3. position your feet correctly
  4. get as close to the load as possible
  5. maintain the normal spinal curves
  6. use the correct grip
  7. hold the load close to the body (and brace abdominals)
  8. thrust up with the legs

You should also stretch before and after.

Manual handling training is available for all staff. See the Health and Safety section of Discover for training dates.

For specialist advice and assistance contact the Health and Safety Team.

Mozzies suck! So cover up.

Personal protection is the best way to reduce biting by mosquitoes:

  • Avoid being unprotected outside.
  • Wear light-coloured loose fitting clothes including long sleeved shirts, long pants and enclosed footwear where possible.
  • Apply an insect repellent to exposed skin. The best repellents contain at least 20% DEET or Picardin. Repellent is readily available around the University.
  • Use electronic insect repellent.
  • Ensure fly screens are properly fitted to doors and windows. Staff can log a Maximo request if any fly screens require repairs.
  • To help minimise mosquitoes and eliminate possible breeding sites, please log an incident report (a hazard) or a Maximo request if you notice any avoidable containers or areas of pooling water that can be removed or cleaned.

Mosquito facts:

  • There are over 30 different types of mosquitoes in the region and only female mosquitoes bite.
  • Mosquitoes are always active during the warmer months particularly following rainfall or unusually high tides.
  • Sonic buzzers and other gadgets that use sound to repel mosquitoes have not been proven to be effective for mosquito protection.
  • Mosquitoes select their host by detecting a mix of attractants including carbon dioxide, warmth, moisture and odours, and also by sight at close distances.
  • Mosquitoes in the Lower Hunter and Mid North Coast are capable of transmitting viruses including Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. These viruses are not life-threatening but the symptoms can include joint pains, muscle tiredness, fatigue, fever and rash, and the symptoms can last from weeks to months.

*Source and further information: Hunter New England Population Health

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.