Ensuring a Good Computing Environment

An article at IT-Director.com, How to reduce the risk of personal injury claims against your IT department discusses steps employers can take to minimize health problems with computer workers:

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) has become the common term for all manner of aches, pains and disorders, but it’s not always correct and can mean different things to different people. A better medical name for the whole group of conditions is ‘upper limb disorders’. Usually these disorders do not last, but in a few cases they may become persistent or even disabling.

Employers can avoid problems by good workplace design, to make sure staff can work comfortably, and that they take regular breaks from the workstation. Short and frequent breaks are thought to be more beneficial than longer, less frequent ones. Preventing upper limb disorders is easier than ever.

Limb complaints can arise from employees who use laptops and portable computers. Make sure are compact and easy to carry. Design features such as small keyboards can make prolonged use uncomfortable so consider advising staff to use a docking station.

If full-sized equipment is available advise staff to use it. Like other computer users, people who habitually use a portable should be trained how to minimise the risks. This includes sitting comfortably, angling the screen so it can be seen clearly with minimal reflections, and taking frequent breaks if work is prolonged. Wherever possible, portables should be placed on a solid surface—importantly this should be at the right height for the user to prevent back injuries.

In addition to the ergonomic considerations, the article recommends that companies conduct risk assessments for their workplaces, and take the health of their employees into consideration: “No matter what size of the business, all employers have Health and Safety obligations to ensure staff have a safe working environment. A small cost to seek advice could save you thousands in the long run from claims brought against the company. Good Health and Safety practice also increases productivity which will have an impact on bottom line profitability.”

How serious is your employer about workplace ergonomics?

Randy Rasa

Randy is an engineer/programmer/web designer who has suffered from repetitive strain injury off and on for over a decade.

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