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5.1.6 Health issues



Revision points:
Candidates should be able to:
  • describe the potential health problems related to the prolonged use of ICT equipment, for example RSI, back problems, eye problems and some simple strategies for preventing these problems;

It is important to realise that working with computers, particularly for long periods of time, can be dangerous to your health. To create a safe working environment, the following factors should be considered.

Health Risks:


Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) - This is caused by repetitive finger movements over long periods of time and can cause serious pain in the finger joints.

Solutions - to reduce the risk of RSI you should:

  • have your keyboard positioned correctly
  • use a keyboard with a good ergonomic design
  • develop a good typing technique
  • try using wrist supports placed in front of the keyboard
  • take regular breaks from using the keyboard

Special, ergonomically-designed keyboards where the keys are split and contoured for the hands, can be purchased.


Eye Strain - Eye strain is quite common among people using monitors over extended periods of time. It can result in irritated eyes and blurred vision.

An anti-glare screenSolutions - to reduce eye strain, users should look away from the monitor and focus on a distant object from time to time to relax their eye muscles. An anti-glare screen can help some users.

All new monitors must comply with EU standards which ensure that radiation emission is as low as possible and all new screens must be fitted with tilt and swivel stands.

Room lighting can have a major effect on eye strain.

  • Windows should be fitted with non-reflective blinds.
  • Computers should be positioned so that sunlight does not reflect off the screen.
  • The optimum position is at right angles to the source of natural light.
  • Worktops should have a matt surface in order to reduce glare.
  • Computer monitors should ideally be placed at right-angles to any bright light sources.  If the monitor faces such a light source then there will be too much reflected glare and if the monitor faces away from such a light source then the user may end up squinting to see the screen.

The correct posture when using a computerBack problems - Sitting at the computer for long periods of time is never comfortable. Leaning back in the chair reduces the pressure on the spine but then the arms have to reach forward to the keyboard creating muscle tension which leads to aches and pains in the neck, shoulders, back and arms.

Solutions - while working at the keyboard, the correct seating position is sitting upright with the feet flat and the lower arms and thighs in a roughly horizontal position. Adjustable chairs that give the maximum support for the back are also best.

Sufficient room is needed for the monitor to be moved back and forward. Ideally, the top of the monitor should be at eye level.

Worktops should have a fixed height of between 660-730mm (720mm is recommended). A worktop depth of 760-840 mm is required to give the user sufficient distance from the screen while working.

Even with a comfortable working environment, it is still good to stand up, stretch and move around at regular intervals. 


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