Besides mobile phones, one of the most ubiquitous electronic devices you can find is the personal computer. Almost every urban home (and even many homes in rural areas) has a computer – whether it’s a desktop, a laptop, a netbook, or a tablet. In some homes, you can even find more than one PC – even one for each member of the family.
Computers have revolutionized the work world. They save massive amounts of time and complete tasks in minutes that used to take weeks. If you work from home or in an office, most of your day will usually be spent in front of the computer and it is crucial working safely on your computer. If you don’t know how the correct set up of a workstation is, you will be sure to suffer from health problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, and headaches.
Here are some guidelines for home or office use of computers to enhance safety and avoid health problems;
- Posture and Positioning of the chair
It may sound obvious, but not everyone practices good posture while working with computers. Poor posture might be in fact the start of back problems in years to come. Good posture starts with a properly adjusted chair and computer height. In every workplace, the chairs supplied should be comfortable whilst encouraging proper posture. Computer health and safety guidelines state that chairs should support the lower back. It is also essential that chairs are a set distance from the screen monitor: 19 to 27 inches. Make sure that your chair is adjusted so that it supports your lower back, your knees and hips are level, and your feet are flat on the floor. At the same time, adjust your computer screen so that your eyes are just level with the top. If your feet do not reach the floor, make sure that you have a support such as a footrest. You should be able to ask for one from your employer if there isn’t one around.
- The layout of the desk
A working area should promote efficient working by being comfortable and stress-free. Any distractions should be eliminated so that the worker’s concentration isn’t affected.
- Windows and lighting
The computer should not be situated in places where windows and lighting will affect screen visibility; any kind of glare on the screen will make it harder to work effectively. Yet if glare cannot be removed, rules suggest the purchase of screen filters.
- The screen monitor
The light that comes from computer screens is tiring in itself to look at for an extended period. The anti-glare is there to prevent additional reflections off the surface of the screen straining your eyes. Make sure you don’t wipe down your screen with wet wipes or anything else that can dissolve the chemical coating which is used for anti-glare in some screens. Also, position your computer so that you are not facing a window and light does not bounce off the screen towards you. Give your eyes a break by focusing every so often on objects in the distance. Blink frequently.
- The keyboard
In order to follow instructions, the keyboard should be positioned above elbow level. More use should be made of the keyboard as opposed to the use of the mouse. Many people use only the wrist to move the mouse when it should be moved by the whole of the arm. Working safely with your Keyboard ensure you are free with wrist related problems.
- Typing position
Many people are unaware of how much the typing position can increase risks of injury to all parts of the lower arm. Computer health and safety rules should be examined in regards to how the arms, wrists, hands, and fingers should be positioned when typing. Computer users should eendeavour to learn typing programmes to have the correct insight on ideal typing positions. Attending professional typing programme will reduce the risk of health problems.
EMF can seriously affect computer health and safety. This can be avoided by using wired networks as opposed to wi-fi or wireless networks.
- Portable devices
Portable devices such as laptops are also brought into a workplace with static computers. Many are unaware that the same computer health and safety guidelines apply to these portable devices as much as they do to static devices (e.g. the worker with the portable device should also ensure that they have good posture and positioning like the worker with the static device.)
There also exist computer health and safety measures that apply specifically to portable devices, such as the way in which they are carried from location to location.
- Computer health and safety exercises
There are various exercises you can do whilst in the workplace. These exercises are moderate, do not need any additional equipment and do not take up a lot of time. If the worker carries out these exercises on a regular basis then stress and strains on eye, neck, back or arm muscles can be avoided or improved.
Finally, there should be nothing underneath your computer desk so that your legs are free to move about. It is essential that you keep changing your position throughout the day in order to improve your circulation. You should take short breaks in between because it is not healthy to keep staring at the computer screen for too long.
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