In the UK computer health and safety regulations were introduced in 1992 so that the public could assess potential risks linked to computers and their workstations. In the office workplace it is essential that all workers have a sound knowledge of computer health and safety. Numerous health problems like RSI could arise if computers are improperly used over long periods of time, leading to staff absences. If workers have sufficient knowledge however, they will know how to make efficient use of their computer and work environment and thus prevent any potential injuries occurring.
There are a range of computer health and safety assessments that need to be performed by those who work at a desk and computer. If these assessments are carried out, potential risks can be highlighted and thus resolved.
1. Positioning of the chair
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.
2. 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.
3. 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. With knowledge of computer health and safety, each worker can check their screen regularly for brightness levels. The employer can be informed if workers feel they are straining their eyes and thus are not working effectively.
4. The screen monitor
To ensure full computer health and safety the worker’s screen should always be positioned at eye level. Strain to eye and neck muscles is inevitable when the screen is not adjusted to eye level. Computer health and safety rules also mention that the screen should be wiped on a regular basis; screen visibility will be seriously affected by build up of dirt or smears on the screen. Workers should also take regular breaks from looking at the screen to avoid straining their eyes.
5. 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 use of the mouse. Many workers use only the wrist to move the mouse when it should be moved by the whole of the arm.
6. 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.
EMF can seriously affect computer health and safety. This can be avoided by using wired networks as opposed to wi-fi or wireless networks.
8. 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.
9. Computer health and safety exercises
There are various exercises you can do whilst at 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.
Consequently employers and employees can make beneficial use of computer health and safety assessments. If workers are more comfortable and can avoid potential injuries, then they will be able to generate more business for their employer.