Workstation Safety

It is accepted that there are risks associated with working at computers.

As a result regulations and guidelines have been introduced to control these risks, and to provide computer users with information that will help them reduce or avoid their exposure to these risks.

How can you be at risk from your workstation?

There are three main risks to your health associated with working at a computer.

  • Musculoskeletal problems

Musculoskeletal problems are commonly referred to as Repetitive Stress Injury or RSI, and are also known as Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). They show up as discomfort in your muscles or tendons and can occur in different parts of your body, such as

your back

 

 

 your neck and shoulders

 


 your arms and hands

 

 

 

Common signs and symptoms of RSIs are:

stiffness
aches
tingling
numbness
swelling
limited range of motion

What causes RSI?

Computer Use How much you use the computer
Insufficient Breaks Whether you take enough breaks
Speed and Intensity How intensely and quickly you work at the computer
Posture and Workstation Ergonomics Your posture, and the ergonomics of your workstation setup
Discomfort Previous problems with musculoskeletal or eye discomfort from using the computer
Psychosocial Factors Your workload, work pressures and stress levels
Individual Factors Your age, physical fitness and personal health

Eye-related problems

Using a computer monitor can contribute to various eye-related problems. Some of the common problems are:

blurred vision
sore eyes
headaches

Fatigue and stress

Any element of your workstation that is not set up properly may cause stress.

Stress leads to physical tension, which in turn leads to fatigue.
A fatigued person is vulnerable to further stress… …and therefore susceptible to problems arising from poor health due to stress.
…and therefore susceptible to problems arising from poor health due to stress.

Psychosocial Factors


Pressures at work which can cause stress are known as Psychosocial Factors.

Some examples of potential work stressors are:

job dissatisfaction
perception of your workload
perceived lack of support from your supervisor or colleagues

Individual Factors


Also important are Individual Factors which vary with each person. For example:

  • your overall health
  • your physical fitness level
  • Muscle Fatigue

No posture, however correct, should be maintained for long periods of time.

Using a computer requires your body be in a mostly “static” posture (not moving). This reduces blood flow to your muscles and can cause muscle fatigue.

Muscle fatigue can in turn cause discomfort and is a risk factor for RSI.

To avoid this, change your posture regularly and take breaks.

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