Long term use of computers has been linked to a range of possible health problems. Some of these problems include upper limb disorders, eye problems, stress, fatigue and joint pain and can be caused by, or exacerbated by poor desk design, poor positioning of computer equipment, bad posture, and remaining seated in one position for long periods of time.
For example, repetitive strain injury is a common problem suffered by many computer users. This condition can result from prolonged periods spent typing, intensive use of the mouse or a gaming pad and may present as tenosynovitis (swollen muscles) or carpal tunnel syndrome (swollen tendons).
Even though health and safety is generally associated with the workplace, this month we are bringing you 6 tips for computer health and safety at home.
- Your monitor should be placed in such a way as to make sure that your eyes are level with the top of the screen
- Glare and bright reflections on the monitor should be avoided so do not place the screen facing windows or bright lights if possible.
- Use blinds/curtains to block light where necessary
- Provide enough space underneath the computer desk for legs to move freely
- Make sure that you leave ample room in front of the keyboard so that you can rest your hands and wrists.
- Your wrists should remain straight when you are typing
- Make use of wrist rests or an ergonomic keyboard, where possible
- Make sure that the mouse fits the hand – try to buy a smaller mouse for a child
- Keep the mouse close to the user so that they do not have to overstretch in order to use it.
- The forearm should always be supported by the desk when the mouse is in use
- The monitor should be positioned in such a way that the user is neither craning their neck, or hunching over, in order to see the screen properly
- Make sure that the characters are in focus, and adjust the brightness and contrast to suit the surroundings
- Make sure that regular breaks are taken – short and regular breaks are preferable to long, infrequent ones.
- Computers users should get up, stretch and move about when they are taking a break
Whilst deterioration of eye sight is not a proven side effect of extended computer use, eye strain and headaches are a definite outcome of long periods spent in front of a screen. Eyesight health can be optimised by
- Changing position regularly in order to vary the distance from the screen so that the eyes do not stay in a fixed place for long periods
- Use a flat screen monitor
- Use as large a screen as possible as the characters will be larger and easier to read.
This is not an exhaustive list of ways to stay healthy whilst using your computer but it is definitely a good basis from which to start.