5.1.6 Health issues
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.
Repetitive Strain Injury
- 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
Solutions - 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.
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
Back 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.
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.