Height of an Italian workstation desk: what does the legislation say?

height adjustable workstation desk

Any work environment can be a source of stress, especially when certain basic guidelines are not respected, especially regarding ergonomic and workstations size. The Italian office desks are not an exception, as the working activity is often constrained to them for many hours. There are precise regulations that define the height of the work surface, based of postural cues. Getting stuck for long continuous periods at a workstation that forces an incorrect posture, indeed, determines not only a decrease in profitability related to discomfort, but also the onset of even serious physical problems, ranging from back pain to consequences for vision.


The features of a workstation desk are defined by the CEN (European Standardization Organization) with the law EN 527-I 2011. This standard is referred to by the Italian law for occupational safety D.LGS 81/08. According to the regulations, 4 types (A,B,C,D) have been defined for desks, based on the possibility of height adjustment by the user. The performance of the various types is variable: A allows complete freedom of height adjustment by the end user, B enables selectable height during assembly, C fixed-height desks, and D with adjustable and selectable height. Adjustable means the final height calibration, whereas selectable defines pre-set steps.


The A type allows a wide range of height adjustment and selection for both seated and standing operators. Standard A requires the workstation to be freely adjustable at any time to suit the operator's requirements. In terms of dimensions, this means seated operator with desk between 650 mm and 850 mm, standing operator between 950 mm and 1250 mm. This is an uncommon standard in Italy, where standing desks are not yet very successful, but it is particularly well established in Northern Europe. The position is adjusted by motorized controls that prevent the operator from physical efforts and the risk of damaging the workstation and what is on the work surface.


It is the static version of type A, from which it differs in that it cannot be modified post-installation. The heights are the same, divided into the two classes: sitting (650 mm-850 mm) and standing (950 mm-1250 mm). Type B desks are usually supplied already optimized for one of the two classes, and no modification can be made by the user after the final adjustment has been made by the installer.


These are non-modifiable static desks with 740 mm +/- 20 mm sitting position and 1050 mm +/- 20 mm standing position. These desks do not allow any type of height adjustment operations. The standard for these desks is 600 mm to 800 mm depth. The variability in depth is related to the predominance of flat screens, which has reduced the need for monitor space. In case of a 600 mm desk, the standard requires not to approach it to the wall to ensure freedom of movement for the legs.


Type D provides adjustable and selectable height with sitting between 680 mm and 760 mm, and standing between 1000 mm and 1180 mm. In order to ensure freedom of movement for the legs, Type D desks must have a depth of 850 mm.


There is no standard for desk type selection, neither for sitting or standing position. Generally, the choice of both height and surface depends on the user needs. More comfortable workstations are preferrable for those who have to stand in front of the monitor for a long time. On the other hand, bigger solutions are ideal for managerial roles. In any case, guidance is also provided for the materials - that don’t have to be bright -, for their resistance under load, scratching and mechanical breakage, as well as the flexibility of the surface. The materials used to make the desks must also be non-toxic and fireproof. The selection of materials should follow both aesthetic and safety-related logics.

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