Know the Hazards in the Workplace

There's probably a reason why you sometimes don't feel well at work. (photo from http://www.shutterstock.com/)

Contrary to what most people think, working in the confines of the office is not as safe compared to other line of work. Sure, it’s  safe from all the elements of nature and most of the time, far the piercing sun’s ray, toxic chemicals and heavy machineries. Not too mention, too, that security can be tight that outsiders can’t easily get in.

There’s probably a reason why you sometimes don’t feel well at work. (photo from http://www.shutterstock.com/)

But being cooped up in the office exposes one to the strain of repetitive and monotonous conditions that can result to back strains, skin diseases, headaches, and eyestrain.Doing jobs that require staring long hours at a computer entails the risk of developing visual problems such as light sensitivity, double vision and temporary blindness. Computer work can also cause and worsen repetitive strain injuries (a range of disorders of the neck, shoulder, arm, wrist and hand) or muscoskeletal disorders resulting from chairs without proper support, improperly positioned  computer peripherals, and poorly designed worked areas. Early signs of repetitive strain injury include a tingling or numbness in the finger or fingers impacted, and pain or even swelling across the hands and even upper arms.

In the United States, the National Institute of Occupational Health has reported that 40 percent of people working predominantly with computers suffer some RSI symptoms, with over ten per cent experiencing constant discomfort. A recent study also revealed that sitting down for more than 54% of the day independently increases the risk for developing heart diseases and can also guess weight gain.

Electrostatic discharges (created within laser printers and cathode ray tube (CRT) display screens), and/or the dry air and static electricity that builds up in offices filled with computer equipment can also cause skin complaints such as itching, rashes on the neck, face or hands, and dry skin.

To avoid computer-related problems, check you workstation and ensure that:

  • your workstation should  be designed to keep you whole body in a neutral  relaxed position and keep the feet flat on the floor.
  • you should have an adjustable chair that moves around easily and should support the back of the your curved lumbar  area, in a reclined position of 100 to 110 degrees.
  • your computer monitor  should be a about an arm’s length away (the larger the monitor, the farther it should be)
  • the keyboard should have a matt surface to avoid glare/reflection and the keyboard legends should be legible with adequate contrast and definition.
  • the keyboard and mouse should be positioned in such a way that the wrists will be straight.
  • there should  be space for your equipments and tools, papers that you can easily reach.
  • you should not be cramped and there should be ample space for you to move around.
  • there is appropriate ventilation in the area where you work.

Although it’s  the responsibility of your employer to provide a safe and hazard free environment and equipments, you also have to do your share in avoiding RSIs. When in front of your computer, try to:

  • ensure that the screen resolution of your monitor is set at the appropriate level, avoiding blurry and indistinct images.
  • let your eyes rest for a while when you feel that it is already starting to itch from prolonged exposure to the PC monitor.
  • keep your arms close to your body, with shoulders, neck and head in a relaxed position.
  • ensure that the PC monitor is angled correctly within your range to avoid getting a stiff neck.
  • sit up erect with your most comfortable position to refrain from suffering back pain. We’ve heard a lot of advise about the proper posture when in front of a PC, but the position where you are most relaxed should be given more importance. Find your neutral position. It is the position that is least stressful, strongest and most efficient position for the body.
  • keep your screen clean (daily screen cleaning has been found to reduce eye strain by as much as fifty per cent.
  • ask the company assets manager if they could provide a footrest so your feet won’t be in a single position while working.
  • making changes to your working position throughout the day.
  • take occasional breaks from display screen equipment activity to rest your eyes.

Web sources:

http://www.digitallycomplete.com/health-issues-in-using-computers.html

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_health_risks_in_using_computers

http://explainingcomputers.com/dse.html