Are You Applying Computer Ergonomics at Work?
Due to the nature of work nowadays, most of us spend several hours using a computer. We use them for typing, communicating, promotions, advertising, and other critical daily tasks at work and home. Unfortunately, some people are not yet aware that prolonged usage of computers can bring adverse effects to the body.
This is because the user is engaged in slouching, staring at the computer screen, sitting, and often extending his wrists. All these can be the cause of health risks and conditions such as fatigue, strain injuries, tingling, and loss of sensation of the hands. That's why it is crucial to learn and apply computer ergonomics to promote better working conditions.
Common Risks of Computer Use
As previously mentioned, most people in today's modern world depend on computers for their daily transactions. These can be at work, shopping online, communicating with family and friends, doing some research, and more. However, experts revealed that despite the convenience of using computers, there are also some risks that it brings to us.
#1 Vision problems. Staring on your computer screen can bring adverse effects to your eyesight. Some experts have stated that too much exposure to smartphones, computers, tablets, and other gadgets can lead to computer vision syndrome. Computer users also experience eye strain or tiredness, which causes discomfort. Such a condition can be aided by using the 20-20-20 rule. It is done by staring at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, and will be done every 20 minutes.
#2 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition often experienced by computer users where pain and discomfort are felt on their wrists and hands. Also, due to the continuous putting stress to the musculoskeletal parts of the body, repetitive stress injuries can happen. Commonly, the body parts affected are the shoulder, fingers, and neck. The proper setup of the desk, computer, and chairs can be a great help to address such issues.
#3 Muscle problems. Prolonged hours of working in front of your desktop monitor can cause muscle soreness and fatigue. Also, computer users often complain about numbness in the shoulders, feet, chest, arms, and back. All these are blamed for the poor posture applied when working on computers, especially for long hours.
#4 Stress. Stress affects a lot of people nowadays. We all know that stress can also be the cause of less productivity and poor health at work. Computer use can contribute to having the stress of employees. Too many hours spent on computer usage can bring headaches, irritability, and fatigue, which can lead to stress.
#5 Radiation. Old computer models that use CRT monitors emit radiation, which is dangerous to the health. Exposure to this can cause people to suffer migraines, insomnia, cancers, and other harmful health conditions. Some studies claim that placing laptops in men's laps can affect their fertility or lowers their sperm count. Besides, radiation, according to health experts, can also irritate the skin.
#6 Weight Problems. One of the adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle, especially whose jobs require using computers, is weight problems. Since computer users tend to be inactive in physical activities, they became more prone to having health conditions such as heart defects, diabetes, and obesity.
#7 Headaches. We often hear computer users complaining of headaches and even migraines. Some health experts shared that some factors that bring headaches are from computer images, brightness, illumination, and strains. Practicing poor posture is another suspect for this.
#8 Posture-related issues. A lot of people are often not aware of poor posture's risks. They are just becoming cautious when they are feeling already the conditions such as neck and shoulder pain, headaches, arm fatigue, and joint problems. Such conditions are also triggered by poor workplace design and prolonged hours of sitting.
What is Computer Ergonomics?
The demanding trends of the workforce today have made people more conscious and observant of how they can promote better work efficiency. Thanks to the knowledge and application of ergonomics. Generally, we know that ergonomics is the study of the proper workspace arrangements to improve injuries, fatigue, and other health issues.
YourDictionary.com defines computer ergonomics as "the practice of fitting the set up of the computer and the workspace to fit the user and the user's work needs to minimize physical stress on the computer user."
Ergonomic Tips When Using your Computers
Since most of us are using computers as part of our daily work and living, the best way we can do is to use them ergonomically. The following are some tips you can apply.
#1 It is imperative to maintain the proper posture when working at the keyboard, or when using your computer, either a laptop or desktop. Also, make sure to utilize a chair that has excellent back support. Your feet should also be supported on the floor so that you will feel comfortable. An anti-fatigue mat can be a big help for that.
#2 Place your wrists in a straight or neutral position when typing or using the mouse. It is also crucial that you keep your knuckles and fingers relaxed when typing.
#3 Do not rest your elbows on your tables' hard surface. Use pads to protect them.
#4 Utilize a keyboard tray so you can position the mouse and keyboard properly. It will also be better to choose and use an ergonomic mouse.
#5 Your monitor should be positioned in the proper position so that your neck will be in a neutral position. The top of the computer screen should be a bit lower at the top of your head.
#6 Customize your computer settings wherein you will be comfortable in using it. This covers the settings for contrast, brightness, font colour, font size, speed, and background images. They should be adjusted correctly so you will achieve comfort and efficiency.
#7 Take some break time and move. No matter how busy you are at work, make it to the point that you will have some breaks. Taking a break can help aid stiffness, reduce fatigue, and stimulate good circulation. All these can be achieved if you do some movements. That is why it is vital if you can infuse some movements during your break time. For instance, take a 5-minute break to walk or stand for a while. Do this very after half an hour.
#8 Your work patterns should also be adjusted efficiently. It will be useful if you can reduce the long hours of computer use if possible. You can also evaluate your daily tasks and create some alternatives instead of staring at your laptops or desktop computers.
# Add a separate keyboard to your laptop. Experts have advised that laptop computers are not designed in an ergonomic feature. This is because the keyboard is already attached to the monitor; thus, they can't be used in the proper positions. However, you can do some techniques to make working with laptops a little ergonomically beneficial. Place some books under it so the top of the laptop screen will be at your eye level. Also, integrate an external keyboard so that your elbows can be comfortably at 90 degrees by your side.
#9 Keep your mind and body healthy. There's nothing better than to have an overall healthy body. When you are physically fit and healthy, your body will be of lesser risk to acquire problems related to computer use. Make sure that you have strong stamina and a healthy cardiovascular system.
Mayo Clinic also provides helpful tips when it comes to office ergonomics. In an informative post published on their website, they provide a visual guide to workstation ergonomics and how to properly set up the chair, computer monitor, accessories, telephone, desk, footrest, keyboard and mouse. Make your workstation to be a place where you can feel comfort, pride, and productive. Utilize and apply the ergonomics mentioned above tips to leverage the quality of the job you can deliver and contribute to your company.