A student lays bricks on the ground for flooring. Wearing protective equipment (workwear, gloves, goggles and helmet (also wearing hearing protection)

Physically heavy work

  • Those doing a physically heavy work should pay attention to maintaining and improving their physical condition.
  • Particularly the transferring of heavy loads, working in heat, and difficult working positions pose stress to the body.
  • Heavy work itself is not enough to maintain or improve the physical condition or the recommended level of healthy exercise. The best way to improve your capabilities to cope with the physical demands of work is through regular exercise. In heavy work, attention should also be paid to recovery during the breaks. Stretching helps the muscles to recover and is refreshing.

Stand-up work

  • Continuous stand-up work is particularly stressful for the feet and for the back. The weight should be distributed on both feet when standing. Harmful customs and habits, such as standing with the weight constantly just on the same foot, should be reduced. Aim to distribute the weight on both feet. 
  • Good footwear is essential in stand-up work. Good work shoes reduce the stress on the feet and on the back during the working day. Sit down during the breaks and, if possible, during work.

Sedentary and display terminal work

  • Sedentary work has its own drawbacks. Particularly the back, neck and cervical vertebrae are under stress in sedentary work.  It is not possible to completely avoid the poor working positions in sedentary work. However, with just minor changes you can avoid unnecessary stress on joints and muscles.

A good working day includes standing up, moving, sitting down and breaks. Try changing the work positions during the working day. However, with just minor changes you can avoid unnecessary stress on joints and muscles.

Versatile nutrition and fluid balance during the working day provide fuel for the muscles.

Take the following things into account when lifting heavy loads

  • Plan the lifting and transfer in advance.
  • Check that the base is firm and level.
  • Remove any obstacles that may hamper lifting.
  • Remove anything posing a risk of tripping.
  • Check that the load is balanced.
  • Keep the load as close to yourself as possible when lifting and carrying.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides.
  • The higher your elbows rise and the longer you work in this position, the worse your working position is.
  • Lift in a controlled manner using your legs. Avoid jerking during lifting.
  • Avoid bowing and rotating your back, especially the combination of these two.
  • Use aids for heavier transfers and lifting. Ask for help from other employees when necessary.
A student repairs a car. The car has been raised to a suitable working height with the help of aids.

Good working position and lifting

Use aids to lift and transfer goods if possible. Avoid spending unnecessary time on your knees.

Two students work standing-up at a desk. They have office chairs waiting behind them.

It is also important for those doing stand-up work to sit down whenever possible

  • Sitting down does not have to be lengthy; the most important thing is to give the feet a moment to recover.
  • You should put your feet up during the breaks. Put your feet up onto a chair when sitting down during, for example, the coffee break.
  • It is advisable to adjust the posture every now and then. One way is to lift your hands up and reach up in order to stretch your back.

Working in a sedentary position

  • It is important to adjust the workstation ergonomically in sedentary work. A well-supported and adjusted sedentary position is less stressful.
  • Avoid positions that expose to head rotation and tilting forwards, backwards, or sideways.
  • The more the chin rotates to the side and up, the worse the position is.
  • It is important for the eyes and the neck that the top of the screen is clearly below the horizontal level of the vision.
  • Having adequate lighting that does not cause glare is important for the vision.
  • The mouse should be positioned next to the keyboard when working on a computer.
  • The entire forearm area of the mouse hand should be supported by the desk or the chair armrests.

Tips for a better working position

  • Hold your head in a vigorous position.
  • Do not bow or sit in a twisted position!
  • Sit at the back of the chair.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Adjust the seat backrest to support your lower back.
  • Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
  • Keep your heels firmly on the floor.
  • Keep your wrists straight. Avoid positions where your wrists, for example, are pressed onto the edge of the desk.
  • Change your working position according to your sensations: alter between sitting, standing and half-sitting positions and moving.

Remember to take note of the related issues if you work in shifts. Every employee can make it easier for themselves to adapt to shift work. It is especially important for the shift worker to eat regularly and healthily and to exercise enough. Exercise improves the quality of sleep and it is also as an excellent way to relieve stress. However, you should avoid heavy exercise for 2-3 hours before bedtime.

Counterbalance for sitting


It is advisable to stretch the legs once per hour in sedentary work. Get up from the chair and stretch your legs. For example, straightening your back and relaxing your shoulders for a few seconds does not reduce your performance. Straightening the back and the neck and lowering the hands for a few seconds restores blood circulation to the tissues. Stand-up desks are becoming more common in offices and they provide an alternative to lengthy sitting.

Energy consumption slows down in sedentary work. The disadvantages associated with it can be countered by physical activity. Leisure exercise hobbies and outdoor activities can be complemented by sneaking activity into the everyday life.

For example


  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walk or cycle to work, all the way or part of it
  • Spend work breaks at least by sitting in a different position than at your workstation
  • Standing and walking during the breaks is refreshing
  • You should also give break exercise a try