Health and Safety on Computers

by AJ

What do you know about health and safety on Computers? Do you know about all the health risks associated with using a Computer?

Computer Health and Safety

Do you use a Computer for your work? Whether you use a computer to work at home or in an office, whether you use it for 40 or 4 hours a week, your health is at risk. This page will show you how to reduce those health risks by teaching you "workstation ergonomics".

Cartoon drawn by my Daughter

A child's eye view of her Work at Home Mum!
Computer Health and Safety
Cartoon Copyright AJ - all rights reserved

ICT Health and Safety

Some of the risks

The more hours a day you spend at a Computer the more you risk developing a computer-related Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), which can include  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tenosynovitis, Bursitis and Tendonitis. Using a Computer can also cause back pain, eye strain, headaches and very serious health issues related to sitting down all day.

It is generally accepted that preventing these problems is a lot easier than curing them (both for our health AND our pockets), so it is worth while taking a few easy precautions and learning about workstation ergonomics and the strain we place on our bodies, not just our arms, wrists and backs but also on our hearts, circulation and metabolism.

Do you have any health issues that you think are caused by working at the Computer

Wrist pain? Back problems? Headaches? Anything else?

What are Work Station Ergonomics?

Setting up your Computer and desk so that you reduce risks

Workstation Ergonimics are basically the position of your PC SCreen, keyboard and mouse in relation to your body. Poor work station ergonomics may lead to injuries - yes, really!

1. Your Computer Monitor should be an arm's length away from you

"But I work with a laptop!", I hear you cry.

Laptops are made for temporary use, while you are on the road away from your office. If you do not want to go to the expense of having a PC AND a Laptop, then consider investing in a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse when using the laptop when you are not travelling.

This will enable you to position the screen, keyboard and mouse in the best positions to reduce the likelihood of injuries.

There's some excellent (and inexpensive) wireless keyboards and mice available. I even use them for my PC these days, it makes for less of a tangle of wires on my desk.

2. The top of the monitor should be roughly level with your eyes and directly in front of you.

If you need to raise the height of your monitor, you can buy a monitor stand, or do what I do, have a shelf at the back of the desk, that is specifically for the monitor.

Do not have your monitor placed at an angle or off to one side, which means you cannot sit straight at your desk.

3. Your back should always be well supported by your chair

Sit up, don't slump or round your shoulders (sorry if I sound like your Mother at the dinner table - heck I sound like ME at the dinner table!)

Wireless Keyboards and Mice

Great for using with a Laptop
Logitech Wireless Desktop MK320 with Keyboard and Mouse

The logitech wireless desktop mk320 comes with a comfortable keyboard and a carry-around mouse. 2.4 ghz wireless gives you a long range and reliable connection. the mouse has ...

$39.99  $24.99
HP Wireless Elite Keyboard

The HP Wireless Elite Keyboard combines style and high-tech key design to deliver an ultra-thin design and silent operation. Built-to-last the HP Wireless Elite Keyboard ...

Only $35.41
Apple Wireless Keyboard (Retail Packaging)

The completely cable-free Apple Wireless Keyboard uses Bluetooth technology to connect with your Mac or iPad. So you're free to move the keyboard just about anywhere within ...

Logitech K350 2.4Ghz Wireless Keyboard

With its distinctive Wave design and Constant Curve layout, Logitech Wireless Keyboard K350 guides your hands into just the right position. You’ll type with ease and ...

$59.99  $28.99
Logitech Wireless Mouse M305 (Black)

The Logitech Wireless Mouse M305 offers exceptional comfort and cordless convenience. It is part of The Fantasy Collection from Logitech. Fanciful patterns, dreamy colors: the ...

Only $29.99
Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000 - Dragon Fruit Pink

Optical - Mouse - 3 x Buttons - Type A - USB

Only $29.99

Monitors and Monitor Stands

Use these for an Ergonomic Workstation
Acer ET.CV3WP.E05 19-Inch Widescreen LCD Monitor (Black)

Acer V193W EJb 19" LCD Monitor ET.CV3WP.E05 LCD Flat Panel Displays

ASUS VH198T 19-Inch Widescreen LED Monitor

ASUS VH198T - Save the Earth and Shrink Your Power Bill with VH198; Mercury-free LED monitor delivers ultra-sharp images with great power savings. LED monitor, Green Power ...

ASUS Computer International Direct
Acer V173 Djb 17-Inch LCD Monitor - Black

The V173Djb LCD offers an expansive 17" display surface for comfortable viewing of multiple spreadsheets, high-def media and more.

Allsop Metal Art Monitor Stand (Black)

The Metal Art Monitor Stand helps your computer fit into your life. Both in function and in form. Forged from steel, it provides a wide sturdy shelf for your monitor or ...

OFC Express Monitor Stand 20.5 x 11 x 4.25, Black

OFC Express manufactures a wide variety of high-quality, modish computer accessories for the computer user. OFC Express monitor stand raises monitor to comfortable viewing ...

OFC Express
3M Adjustable Monitor Stand (MS80B)

Contemporary design with stacking columns raises monitor from 1" to 5.875" in increments of 1.625" for an ergonomically correct level. Features ample storage space underneath ...

3M Office Products

More tips to help you set up an Ergonomic Work Station

4. Your keyboard should be roughly at the same height as your elbows when your arms are down by your sides (sitting down, NOT standing up!)

It is important that your forearms are level as you type or sloping down very slightly, to ensure you are not lifting or hunching your shoulders as you type.

5. You should be able to sit with your feet flat

If you cannot reach the floor (because you are making sure your elbows are at the same height as your keyboard), use a foot stool - even a box will do.

6. Have a chair with an adjustable height control

If you do not have an adjustable chair, use a cushion to raise yourself.

How you should work at your Computer

The way you sit while working at your PC is important

Once you have set up your Computer Workstation correctly, it is important to ensure that you do not cause strain to various parts of your body by the way your are sitting and working.

Avoid resting your wrists on your desk as you type and use your mouse. Your wrists need to be striaght, not bent and your arms and hands should be able to move freely and without restraint. Wrist rests should NOT be used while actually typing or using the mouse - only use them for resting in between typing and mouse clicking.

Are your shoulders hunched when you type? You are probably not sitting high enough. Adjust the height of your chair or get that cushion!

Try using your mouse with either hand and swap regularly. This avoids over-use of one hand and if you are already showing signs of RSI in your normal "mouse hand", then swapping will help.

Take regular breaks!

You need to take a 10 minute break every hour when you are working, particularly if you are researching and writing articles (like here on Wizzley!). It is all too easy to become absorbed and lose track of time. So you could try some break reminder software.

Best Selling Height Adjustable Computers Chairs

Ideal for working at the PC
Boss Black LeatherPlus Executive Chair
$176.46  $156.32
Ergo Value Mesh Mid-Back Task Chair, ...
Only $179.00
Black Mesh Computer Chair - LF-W-118A...
$56.45  $55.10

Eye Strain when using a PC

How to look after your eyes

Always work in a well lit environment and make sure the available light around your workstation reduces the glare from the screen. If the overhead lighting casts shadows on your keyboard or is badly located, then get a desk lamp and position so that it gets rid of the shadows.

My Desk Lamp is actually a SAD Lightbox, so not only does it give me the illumination I need when natural light is reduced, it also gives me the boost I would get from sunlight.

However, you can also get anti-glare filters that will fit over your computer screen to help prevent discomfort and eyestrain.

Every so often you should look away from the screen. It is bad for your eyes to be focussing on objects that are the same distance away all the time - a perfect excuse for gazing out of the window!

Anti-Glare Screen

Helps prevent eyestrain and discomfort
Premium CRT Filter
$127.95  $41.27

Computer work causes stress!

Take a break

I am sure that if my PC was not wired in and so heavy, there's times when I would have lobbed it out of the window! Try to be relaxed when you use your PC. If you find yourself becoming stressed and shouting at it, then it is time to take a break!

We all know that sitting for hours a day watching TV is bad for us. So what is the difference with sitting at the PC? Errrrr...not much actually. OK, sitting at the PC may be more stressful than watching TV, but did you know that your heart, circulation and metabolism are affected by the amount of time you spend sitting each day, typing away to get that next article finished and published before we move on to the next one?

You will find more information about other extremely serious health issues caused by sitting down for too long on my related page Health and Safety: Computers.

Health and Safety: Computers was the topic I discussed with Joan and Kate on
Giant Squid Open Mike on Tuesday, 05 July 2011.
I have a regular slot on Giant Squid Open Mike on Blogtalk Radio
on the first Tuesday of each month
5pm EST (USA)
10pm GMT (UK)

More about Health and Safety when using Computers

All about other serious Health Risks
Health and Safety: Computers looks at the very, serious (and sometime fatal) health issues caused by sitting at the computer all day.

Workout at Wotk Day

Health and Safety at Work

Workout at Work Day
How to make sure that sitting at the computer all day does NOT cause you serious health problems!

Updated: 02/24/2014, AJ
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Raintree on 10/11/2013

It was easier when I had my dog as although he was quiet when I was working he would every so often get up stretch and want to go out for a walk- reminding me to get up, stretch and go out! I really do try to take that hourly break. Everything is set up fine its just taking breaks I need to work on :)

Dian on 10/23/2012

oh yeah not forgetting the 10 minutes break bt yet i think ppl keep forgetting abt

Dian on 10/23/2012

yes i did n it was a great experience learning about them

Sheri_Oz on 06/10/2012

This is so important. It is so easy to lose track of the time we work at the computer and then suffer afterward.

mandeesears on 08/05/2011

The cartoon is great and I am sure it represents most of our kids! LOL Great tips and suggestions for keeping well while we all work on our dreams from the computer.

AJ on 07/07/2011

And thank you for listening Claudia :)

Claudia on 07/05/2011

What a funny cartoon! I can relate:-) Great show today

KateLoving on 07/05/2011

Tremendous AJ! Let's get up and dance.

sheilamarie on 07/04/2011

Yes, I'm another one who needs to be reminded of these issues. The ten minute break every hour is a hard one. There's always "just one more thing I have to do!"

petunia on 06/28/2011

PS Lizzie's cartoon says it all!

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