Important Characteristics of Good Working Environment
The setup of the working environment has a big impact on your health. Indeed, many people suffer injuries from working with computers, among them migraines, eyestrain, conjunctivitis, RSI (repetitive strain injury), fatigue, back strain, neck strain, carpal tunnel syndrome and other. Thus creating a good working environment is really important to you.
Setting Up Your Working Place
When you sit at the desk, your hands should be in a relaxed position, and your wrists should feel relaxed when your hands tap. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle to the desk. Your back should be straight and your feet should be flat on the ground or a footrest. You shouldn’t hunch the shoulders.
The mouse should be as close to the keyboard as possible, avoid having to stretch or reach to access the mouse. Your monitor should be at eye level, at 20-38 inches away from your face.
Don’t forget that sitting in the same position for a long period or maintaining an awkward positioning of the wrist and hand in relation to the keyboard can harm your body. Besides, high workload for a prolonged period of time, excessive use of the mouse and some other factors can add to the risks.
Tip: In the US, the regulations require employers to carry out a risk assessment of users’ workstations, which should consider the entire workstation, including equipment and furniture, as well as the work environment.
The tasks that are being performed at the work station should be considered as should any special needs of individual staff.
Display screen equipment (DSE for short) risk assessments should also consider other factors that may contribute to repetitive strain injuries. The DSE Regulations detail the minimum standards for workstations:
- The display screen display well-defined characters of adequate size and spacing, have a stable image, have easily adjustable brightness and contrast, tilt and swivel easily to suit the user, be free from glare and reflections, use a separate base for the screen, or an adjustable table.
- The keyboard should be tiltable and separate from the screen to allow the user to adopt a comfortable working position. It must have a space in front to provide support for the hands or arms of the user, have a mat surface, have clearly legible symbols on the keys.
- The work surface should provide adequate space for the user, have a low reflective surface, be of adequate size to allow the screen, keyboard, etc to be flexibly arranged, have a stable, adjustment document holder, which should be at the same level as the screen and at the same viewing distance.
- A good chair must support the arch in your back is necessary. The work chair should have a seat that is adjustable in height, with a seat back adjustable in height and tilt. A footrest should be available.
- The workstation must provide sufficient space for the user or the operator to alter position comfortably, lighting must be adequate with suitable contrast between the screen and background, glare and reflections on the screen should be avoided. Windows should be fitted with adjustable coverings to alter the daylight level. When a workstation is shared by more than one person, it should be assessed in respect of each person.
Schools and colleges should consult their safety reps on all matters concerning work with computers. Employers are obliged to provide information and training on the health and safety aspects of working with computers. This should cover: the importance of good posture, changing position and good keyboard technique, how to avoid glare or bright reflections in the screen, cleaning and adjusting the screen.
Keep in mind that frequent short breaks are necessary to avoid or diminish health risks.
Under the regulations, users have a right to eye sight tests upon starting computer work and at regular intervals thereafter, at the employer’s expense. Where tests show that the user requires special spectacles/lenses for computer work, the employer must pay for the cost of a basic pair.
Laptops should be used in proper workstations and not on one’s lap, especially if large amounts of data need to be inputted. As prolonged use is likely to cause ergonomic problems, it is even more important for users to take regular breaks, position themselves correctly, flex their arms, etc.
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