Musculoskeletal injury and other disorders associated with computer/ information technology (IT) usage
If you spend prolonged periods of time working with computers and IT, including home computer users and individuals using IT in the workplace, musculoskeletal disorders can have a major impact on your health. Recent research indicates that 50% of computer users have suffered some type of computer related injury or illness. Individuals from 18-25 years have a disproportionately large number, with up to 70% having at least one type of injury.
Common disorders associated with computer/ information technology usage.
Common problems include: eye strain, headache, lower back pain, neck pain, wrist pain, lower arm pain, elbow pain and shoulder pain.
Some individuals can develop more long-term problems including: repetitive strain injury, chronic pain syndromes and myofacial pain syndrome (fibromyalgia). Psychological disturbances such as sleep disturbance, anxiety and depression can also occur.
Health and Safety regulations apply where staff use visual display units(VDUs), such as computer terminals, as a significant part of their work lives. Health and Safety regulations require employers to:
- Analyse their computer work stations, ensuring they meet minimum requirements, including VDU brightness, keyboards, desks, chairs, lighting and other aspects of the environment.
- Arrange appropriate eye tests for employees.
- Plan work to include regular breaks and activity changes.
- Provide health and safety training information Work with Computer Display Screen Equipment/ Visual Display Units (VDUs)
- Work with Computer Display Screen Equipment/ Visual Display Units (VDUs)
- Ergonomics is the key!
- Environment and equipment should be chosen to suit the individual and not force individuals into positions that may, over periods of time, may cause musculoskeletal injury or other disorders to occur.
Desk and chair
- Desk- large enough to position the monitor so it is straight in front of you; chair should be height adjustable and fit easily under the desk.
- Chair- height should allow the forearms to be horizontal with the elbows; feet should be squarely on the floor. After adjusting a chair for the typing position, if the feet do not touch the floor, a foot rest maybe required.
The lower back should be adequately supported by appropriate equipment.
Monitor/ Visual Display Unit (VDU)
The eyes should be in line with the top of the monitor for the optimum viewing, with the monitor approximately 50-65 cm away from the eyes; this facilitates easy focussing.
- Do not put anything between you and the keyboard, other than ergonomically designed wrist supports
- Arms should be at right angles to the keyboard.
- Wireless mice give maximum versatility and positioning.
- The mouse should be kept close to they keyboard to reduce stretching and reaching.
- The mouse should fit easily within the hand with buttons/ track wheels within easy reach of the fingers.
Summary of Musculoskeletal injuries and other disorders associated with computer/ information technology (IT) usage
Musculoskeletal injuries and other disorders are becoming an increasing health problem in todays IT driven society. The majority of these are avoidable with a some thought to basic ergonomics. Simple steps including rearranging the office environment or changing the position of the workstation or chair can have a significant impact on this.