Many nonprofit people change the world while sitting at desks. Email management, writing donor letters, data tracking, and so much more happens from a desk. Nearly three-quarters of the people NAWA surveyed reported that extensive sitting is a challenge for their nonprofit. Prolonged sitting and desk work can cause various physical symptoms.

Various Physical Symptoms Resulting from Sitting
Common Risk Factors
Neck strain
Repetition (like typing)
Shoulder tendinitis and bursitis
Static loading or sustained exertion (like holding hands over keyboard)
Hand and wrist tendinitis
Awkward postures (like slouching or holding a phone to the ear)
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Mechanical contact stress (like using scissors)
Tennis and golfer’s elbow (epicondylitis)
Force (like stapling)


  • Examine opportunities to reduce risk. There are four levels to consider:
    • Organization: job design, work schedules, staffing
    • Office Environment: lighting, noise, temperature, office design
    • Individual Work Station: furniture, chairs, accessories, hardware, software
    • Individual Worker: Unique characteristics
  • Check for the following:
    • Chairs are in good condition and fit the people sitting in them.
    • Materials are stored safely to prevent moving injuries.
    • Computer keyboards and monitors are placed at the right height.
  • Explore your safety and health culture. Does your organization encourage breaks, standing up and moving around, or other interruptions to long periods of sitting?


Desk Work One-Pager

Download the Desk Work Resource to share at your next safety committee meeting, safety meeting, or board meeting.

Desk Work Resource

Actions you can take and resources to help you tackle health and safety challenges related to desk work.


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