Computer Ergonomics and your health


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Computer Ergonomics is the science of adjusting your work environment to fit your body and to make it as comfortable as possible.

It is important that you are able to use your computer comfortably and without health risks. You should ensure that your work area is properly set up so as to prevent problems associated with Repetitive Strain Injury(RSI).

Computer Ergonomics to prevent health risks

Computer-related Repetitive Strain Injury is defined as performing repetitive tasks at your computer, causing body strain which eventually leads to injury. It is also known as Repetitive Stress Injury. Any repetitive activity can cause RSI.

RSI includes conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Bursitis and Tendinitis and is as a result of repeating a motion that puts too much stress on a particular joint of your body.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused from repetitive movement and is a condition in which your median nerve (the nerve that runs from your forearm into your hand) is squeezed at your wrist causing:

  • Numbness and tingling ('pins and needles') of parts of your hand.
  • Excruciating pain in parts of your hand.
  • Some amount of difficulty when using your hand to perform tasks such as gripping objects.
  • Reduced sensitivity in your thumb, index, middle and part of your ring finger.
  • The 'falling asleep' of your hand.

You should practice Computer Ergonomics

Most of us will feel some form of discomfort when using our computer but very serious health problems could occur if it is overdone.

The best way to prevent RSI is to position and use your computer correctly.

You need to ensure that your computer work area is set up in a way that will prevent problems associated with RSI.

The use of the computer has become such an important part of our daily lives that there is a high possibility of acquiring RSI unless you take preventative measures to avoid it.

You should examine your work area and make changes as necessary so as to have and maintain proper Computer Ergonomics.

Practising good Computer Ergonomics is extremely important since we spend so much time using our computer. You should have proper posture, the correct equipment and good working habits.

Computer Ergonomics Tips

The following tips are being provided to assist you in preventing RSI and making your computer work area a healthier, safer and more comfortable place. You should have your computer workstation ergonomically designed. This includes your chair, desk, keyboard/mouse and monitor.

Your Computer Keyboard and Mouse:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the most common type of RSI which affects the wrist.

  • Use your keyboard more than your mouse. You should learn keyboard shortcuts here. Keyboard shortcuts can help prevent RSI.
  • While typing, do not use a wrist rest. Use it only when you are not typing. Your wrist rest should be padded to help to support your wrists. This would help to remove some of the weight from off your neck, shoulder and back muscles.
  • Your wrists must be straight and flat over your keyboard.
  • Put your keyboard close to your body.
  • Your mouse should be at the same level as your keyboard. Ensure that your keyboard area has enough space to hold your keyboard and mouse.
  • Your mouse should fit very comfortably in your hand.
  • You should use your elbow instead of your wrist when moving your mouse.

Monitor:

  • Place your monitor directly in front of you.
  • Sit at arms length away from your monitor.
  • Look directly at your monitor and not from the side. The screen must be at eye level.
  • Tilt the monitor so that the back is lower than the front.
  • Adjust the brightness of your monitor to eliminate contrast.
  • Prevent light reflections from behind to be on your monitor so as to protect your eyes.
  • Purchase an anti-glare screen for your monitor to help to prevent glare from the screen.
  • Periodically look away from your monitor to help to prevent eye strain.
  • Get a document holder and place it as close as you possibly can to the monitor screen.

Chair:
Click here to read about Computer Ergonomics and your chair.

Desk:
Click here to read about Computer Ergonomics and your desk.

Lighting:

  • Do not allow direct light to come through windows. Install blinds or curtains where neessary.
  • Avoid very bright lights.
  • Use fluorescent lighting.

Breaks:

  • Take short breaks from using your computer so as to prevent fatigue. A short break could be taking your hands off your keyboard and allowing your arms to go to your sides.
  • Give your eyes a break by looking away from the monitor screen periodically.

Stretch:
Stretching will help to reduce your muscle tension.

Telephone:
Try to avoid having the telephone receiver nestled between your neck and your ear since this practice could result in pain in your shoulder and back. You should buy a headset for use when talking on the telephone.

Your Laptop and Computer Ergonomics

Although the normal desktop computing rules relating to the prevention of Repetitive Stress Injury will still apply when using your laptop, there are certain rules that are unique to your laptop:

  • Arrange your laptop on a suitable surface that puts it at a proper height to enable proper viewing of the screen without having to twist or bend your neck unnecessarily.
  • When travelling:
    • Use a firm bag or bag with wheels to make it easier to carry.
    • Carry only essential accessories to reduce weight, stress and strain on your shoulders.
    • Use an external mouse or use keyboard shortcuts. Click here to view keyboard shortcuts.

    Final Thoughts...

    Practice proper Computer Ergonomics and prevent serious health problems now!

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