Your computer workstation could be placing
your health at risk
What's so difficult or unhealthy about setting
up a computer, putting a chair in front of the monitor and starting
to use it? To do this properly and experience long term comfortable,
enjoyable, and healthy computing really does require a few rather important
considerations regarding your computer work station.
Although most of us don't spend 8 hours a day at our computers, some of us do spend quite long hours pursuing our
interests, reading and sending email, and a variety of other fun things.
Your workstation consists of a computer, monitor, keyboard, pointing
device and a desk and chair, with a variety on other devices of your
support your computing activities.
The conditions of your work area - the space where you use your
workstation - play an important role in the degree of success or
pleasure you receive from your computing activities.
They also impact your physical comfort and risks to your
Working long hours at a stretch could increase your risk of physical
discomfort or even lead to disabling conditions. But it
doesn't need to.
Something as basic as proper working posture can affect not only
your comfort, but also your health and well-being. Improper working
conditions can lead to pain and discomfort in the hands, wrists,
elbows, shoulders and neck. The problems may vary from aches to
pain, burning, numbness or tingling and be more or less severe or
uncomfortable among people of different age groups, with different physical
and medical conditions, etc..
Body Position - yours
The comfort goal is to be able to work in a neutral body position
with a natural alignment of all your joints from head to toes. (The
emphasis is on 'natural' - not forced or twisted positioning).
To do that, be sure your shoulders are at ease with upper arms
hanging normally at the sides of your body. Keep your elbows close
to your body and bent between 90 and 110 degrees. Support your feet
on a footrest or relax them on the floor. Your chair should support
your back fully with a firm hold on the lumbosacral area.
Position you monitor at a right angle to windows to reduce glare.
Place it in front of you and at least 20 inches away with the the
top line of the screen at or below your eye level to avoid any kind
of strain to your neck and eyes. Rest your eyes every so often by
focusing on objects that are at a considerable distance from your
seat, like a painting on the wall around 20 feet away
If the image that you view on the screen is of poor quality, your
eyes have to strain more to view it properly. Straining like this
for any long period of time increases the risk of serious eye
problems. If it's difficult seeing small characters, check the glare,
monitor resolution, or your eyes. You may need glasses (bifocals can
be a problem). It might be necessary to replace the monitor if all
images and text are of poor quality, or it could be just a poor
image file or a dirty monitor screen. If you have finger prints or a
lot of dust on your screen, be sure to review the monitor
manufacturer's instructions for safe cleaning practices. CRT and
flat screen LCD monitors may require different cleaning methods.
Place your keyboard directly in front of you and slightly lower than
your elbows. With your elbows positioned close to your body and your
shoulders in a relaxed position, locate it so that your wrists are
straight and in-line with your forearms. If used properly,
wrist/palm supports can reduce muscle activity while working on the
computer and help attain a neutral wrist angle. Wrists should be
generally straight when using your keyboard and mouse or trackball.
Improper lighting can lead to eyestrain. Poor posture, poorly
located monitors, keyboards and pointing devices increase the stress
on muscles in your neck, hands, shoulders, back, even the risk of Carpal Tunnel
syndrome problems with your wrists.
Working on major projects, becoming deeply involved in exciting and
challenging games, surfing through interesting websites, and other
exciting activities can easily cause you
to lose track of time. You might have to train yourself to become
aware of long, uninterrupted computing sessions.
Try to take a five minute break now and then. Change your position
occasionally. Do a few exercises or take a short walk. These are
great stress relievers that can minimize tiredness and discomfort
and contribute to more healthy computing pleasures.
However, if you experience recurrent, persistent or worsening
discomfort, especially if the discomfort includes pain, numbness or
weakness, medical professionals recommend that you contact your
physician for advice as soon as you can.
The earlier a problem is correctly diagnosed and treated, the easier
it is to take care of and the less chance there is that it will
progress to a disabling condition.
... Richard Rossbauer
Richard started his "Firewalls
and Virus Protection" website and "Security
Alert News Reporter" to help everyday Internet users
navigate safely through the Cyber Space that has become a 'Cyber
Jungle', loaded with ambushes and booby traps. He promotes his "Computer
Security Awareness Campaign" thru his website at
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