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These days, computers have become so inevitable part of our lives that we need to use it for various purposes. Be it a free time or working hours, except a very few people, all depend on this machine to get their jobs done. There are certain things you need to know about the computer work hazards and the preventive techniques you need to follow to make your stay in front of the computer, trouble free.
I have come across some common worries shared by people who have to sit for long hours in front of the computer.
Is there a term called overuse of computers? If so, where do I draw the line?
If I have to use it on a daily basis, how many hours of my presence in front of this machine is recommended?
Will I be able to finish my work if I am to follow my recommended time schedule?
Here is a checklist that will help you create a safe, sound, and relaxed workstation. You can try using it in combination with the purchasing guide checklist. There are two options - 'Yes' and 'No'. The questions relate to different topics like working postures, seating, keyboard, monitors, accessories, work area and some general questions. If the response is 'no', it means that a problem exists.
1. Do your head and neck need to be upright, or in-line with the your torso (not bent down/back)?
2. Do the head, neck, and trunk need to be facing forward without twisting?
3. Does your trunk have to be perpendicular to the floor (you may lean back into backrest but not forward)?
4. Do your shoulders and upper arms need to be relaxed and in-line with the torso, normally about perpendicular to the floor (but not elevated or stretched forward)?
5. Do the upper arms and elbows need to be close to the body and not extended outward?
6. Do your forearms, wrists, and hands need to be straight and in -line (forearm at about 90 degrees to the upper arm)?
7. Do the wrists and hands need to be straight (not bent up/down or sideways toward the little finger)?
8. Do both the thighs need to be parallel to the floor and the lower legs to be perpendicular to floor (thighs may be slightly elevated above knees)?
9. Can your feet rest flat on the floor or should they be supported by a stable footrest?
10. Does the backrest of the chair support your lower back?
11. Does the seat width and depth have the capacity for the specific user (seat pan not too big/small)?
12. Is the seat pan of your chair too long to press against the back of your knees and lower legs?
13. Is your seat cushioned properly, rounded, and blunt with a "waterfall" front?
14. Do the armrests of your chair support both forearms while working on the computer without meddling with your movement?
15. Are the platforms for the keyboard/input device stable and large enough to hold a keyboard and an input device?
16. Are the input devices (mouse or trackball) located right next to your keyboard so that they can be accessed and used without having to reach them?
17. Can the input devices be easily activated with their size and shape fitting your hand (not too big/small)?
18. Does your workstation ensure that your wrists and hands do not rest on sharp or hard edges?
19. Is the top of the monitor screen at or below your eye level so that you can read it without bending your head or neck down/back?
20. Can the user with bifocals/trifocals read the screen without bending the head or neck backward?
21. Does the distance of the monitor allow you to read the screen without leaning your head, neck, or trunk forward/backward?
22. Is the monitor positioned directly in front of you so that you don't have to twist your head or neck?
23. Do you ensure that glare (for example, from windows, lights) is not reflected on your screen that makes you sit in awkward postures so as to view the screen better?
Work Area (Desk and Workstation):
24. Between the top of the thighs and your computer table, do you have enough room or your thighs (thighs are not trapped)?
25. Do you ensure that your legs and feet have sufficient clearance space under the work surface so that you can get close enough to the keyboard/input device?
26. Is your document holder stable and large enough to hold documents?
27. Is your document holder placed at about the same height and distance as the monitor screen so that there is little head movement, or need to re-focus, when you look from the document to the screen?
28. Is your wrist/palm rest padded and free of sharp or square edges that push on your wrists?
29. Does your wrist/palm rest allow you to keep your forearms, wrists, and hands straight and in-line when using the keyboard/input device?
30. While doing telephone and computer tasks simultaneously, do you keep your head upright (not bent) and your shoulders relaxed (not elevated)?
31. Do your workstation and equipment have sufficient adjustability that ensures your safe working posture while allowing you to make occasional changes in posture when you work on your computer?
32. Are your computer workstation, components, and accessories maintained in serviceable condition and do they function properly?
33. Are your computer tasks planned in a way that allows you to vary tasks with other work activities, or to take micro-breaks, or recovery pauses while at the computer workstation?
So that is all about it. Living carelessly is the easiest thing to do, but could be the most dangerous thing too. On the other hand if you take some precaution, it can be the foundation for a healthy living, later in your life.
Remember that all the computer related hazards are not going to hamper your life in a very short span of time. But it may take years to show the symptoms. As I said earlier, prevention is better than cure.
About the Author: Nishanth Reddy is an Author and Publisher of various health related websites. For more information on Ergonomic Computing Tips visit: http://www.safecomputingtips.com.