Proper Techniques In The Workplace: Working With Computers
Most of us have jobs that require us to use a computer for word processing, creating graphs, composing newsletters or data entry. Creating a suitable workstation can help you avoid some of the common health problems associated with constant work at a computer. Some health problems experienced by some users include eyestrain, neck and back pain, hand, wrist and elbow pain, stress, tension headaches, dizziness, tension, nausea, and irritability.
Constant use of a computer keyboard may cause stress and strain known as repetitive motion injuries (RMI). Casual keyboard users normally avoid the effects of RMI, however, constant, steady use of a keyboard can cause injury. Keyboards don't cause these problems directly, but how they are set up and used can lead to these symptoms. Workstation design and simple user techniques can help eliminate most problems. Here are some possible steps you can take to minimize your chances of being effected.
Adjust the chair to allow thighs to rest parallel to the floor, slide hips all the way back in the chair, feet flat on the floor. Footrests should be used if the chair is too tall. The chair should support the lower back, but a cushion or rolled towel can be placed against the lower back if that adjustment is not available.
Remember that different tasks require different postures. When entering data, you need to lean slightly forward so you can read the copy easier. When you review information on the screen you can lean back slightly more. Remember to eliminate neck and eyestrain, keep your head straight and eyes parallel to the top of the screen.
The keyboard should be placed at a height that allows the upper arms to hang comfortable, with lower arms and wrists forming a 90-degree angle at the elbow, parallel to the floor. Wrists should be fairly straight in a neutral position. Wrist and lower armrests may help maintain this position and protect the palms from resting on the sharp edge of the keyboard. A padded wrist rest may provide some users greater comfort.
Keyboard slope should be flat or slightly negatively sloped. This will help keep your wrists as straight as possible. Use minimum force for striking keys. The mouse should be next to and at the same level as the keyboard.
Monitors should be placed directly behind the keyboard with the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. The screen should be tilted to avoid glare. Monitor riser(s) or like items can help achieve this result. The screen should be 16 inches to 28 inches from the user's eyes and should not reflect glare from lights or windows.
Sometimes, lighting that is dimmer than used for other tasks is needed. Special shield or glasses may be needed. Also, placing the screen close to a blank wall can help prevent glare. Materials to be copied should be placed in front of the user at the same height as the screen. Document holders may be useful.
Computer users, working for long periods of time on the computer, need to schedule frequent mini breaks and practice hand and neck exercises. While working at your workstation, you can also take a vision break every twenty minutes or so.
Changing focus allows your eyes a chance to relax. Simply glance across the room or out the window from time to time, and look at an object at least 20 feet away. You can also try at-your-desk exercises like shrugging your shoulders slowly, stretching your head from side to side or relaxing your fingers and wrists.
People injure their backs on the job more than any other body part. You can prevent back injuries and pain by following some basic lifting techniques.
- Assess the task, load and process. Before you lift, think about the load and weight. Can you lift it alone? Is mechanical help needed? Is it too awkward for one person, should you ask for help? Use hand trucks or dollies if available. Break larger loads up into smaller loads.
- Assure pathway is clear.
- Make sure footing is solid and get a good grip.
- Keep back straight and vertical to the ground upon lifting the center your body over your feet.
- Bend knees when lifting. Avoid bending at the waist and do not stoop over the object.
- lift the object using leg muscles not your back muscles. With your stomach firm and knees bent, let the large muscles in your legs support your back and carry the weight.
- Keep the load close to you. "Hug" the Load - try to hold the object you're lifting as close to your body as possible, as you gradually straighten your legs to a standing position.
- Move your whole body as you go. If you need to turn while holding the object, don't twist, turn by moving your feet in the direction you intend to go.
- Be careful when putting the object down, follow the same guidelines as you would for lifting.
WARNING: You should never attempt any lifting when you are experiencing back pain. If you can't get someone to assist you with the lift, you are better off leaving the task undone until you can. Attempting the lift yourself in order to save a few minutes of now could cost you many hours of pain and discomfort later if your back is not capable of handling the load.
- Comport Tips for Seated Computer Users (PDF format, 100KB)*
- Office Stretching (PDF format, 136KB)*
- The Role of Warming Up and Stretching at Work (PDF format, 65KB)*
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