If you use a computer for extended periods of time you likely have experienced eye fatigue and pain or discomfort in the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or back. The good news is that in most cases, corrective measures are relatively simple and inexpensive.
A survey of actual computer use will help you determine which workstations and individuals should be targeted for further evaluation. Highest priority should be given to those individuals who experience symptoms and spend more than 2 hours per day at a computer.
The following guidelines are intended to help you understand and reduce health risks associated with computer workstations. Since no two people are identical, different styles, models, and sizes of furniture and accessories may be needed. Here are some general rules to follow:
- The work surface should be of sufficient area to accommodate the computer and all associated materials. There should be adequate space beneath this surface for the operator’s legs and feet.
- The keyboard and mouse should be directly in front of the operator at a height that favors a neutral posture (23 to 28 inches). When placed at standard desk height of 30 inches, keyboards and input devices are too high for most people. The objective is a posture with upper arms relaxed and wrists straight in line with the forearm. Wrist rests may also help and are built into most keyboard holders.
- The monitor should be positioned at a distance of approximately arm’s length and directly in front of the operator. The top of the screen should be no higher than eye level. A monitor placed on top of the computer can easily be lowered by relocating the computer. Many monitors are height adjustable, stackable monitor blocks or even phone books can be used to achieve the desired height. Adjustable monitor arms enable easy height adjustment for workstations with multiple users.
- A well designed chair will help with posture, circulation and back strain reduction. Desired features of a chair include: pneumatic seat height adjustment, back height adjustment, seat depth adjustment (either by moving the back of the chair or moving the seat pan), and 360 degree swivel.
- Additional accessories can improve operator comfort. Document holders can minimize eye, neck and shoulder strain by positioning the document close to the monitor. A footrest should be used where the feet cannot be placed firmly on the floor. Task lamps will illuminate source documents when room lighting is reduced.
- Glare should be eliminated through methods that include reduction of room lighting; shielding windows with shades, curtains or blinds; positioning the terminal at a right angle to windows; and tilting the monitor to avoid reflection from overhead lighting. Glare screens are not normally necessary.
Lastly, to maintain a safe, comfortable, and productive office all computer users should receive some basic training covering the potential health effects that may result from poor posture and work habits, early warning symptoms, workstation adjustment, and other self-help protective measures.
If you want more information on ergonomics assessments or training contact Randy Free at 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree[at]safetylinks.net