What Are Computer Ergonomics?

by Barbara J. Feldman on February 3, 2008

Most people spend at least some amount of time in front of the computer every day, whether it’s working, surfing the Internet, or writing a report. What some people don’t realize, however, is that spending a lot of time in front of the computer can be a strain on the body.

What are computer ergonomics?

Computer ergonomics consists of placing your computer, its components, and workstation in such a way that it alleviates the strain and stresses on the body that sitting and working at a computer can cause.

What are the effects of the computer?

You may think that just because you are sitting down, working at the computer doesn’t have any adverse affects on the body. However, this is not necessarily the case. Consider the following conditions that can result from computer time:

Eyes

•Staring at a computer screen, especially one placed in dim lighting or one that has a flickering screen, can cause strain on the eyes, resulting in strained or blurry vision and headaches.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

•Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition of the wrists in which a nerve that runs from the forearm to the hand becomes squeezed at the wrist. This can result in pain and numbness that goes from the wrist all the way up to the arm. Spending time at the computer, with the hands and wrists locked in a certain position, is commonly thought to be a contributing cause.

Back and neck strain

•Poor posture from continually sitting at a desk, or from a chair that doesn’t have back support, can result in both neck and back strain. In turn, these can lead to other problems.

How can computer ergonomics help?

Computer ergonomics seek to make the computer workplace as comfortable and least taxing on the body as possible. This is done through a number of ways, including:

Using the proper chair and desk or work station. The chair you are sitting in should have armrests and provide enough support for your back that you can sit up comfortably in it. In addition, the work space should have adequate room for moving around and being able to place the monitor a safe distance from the eyes. The desk should also allow you to fit your legs under it.

Placing the monitor and keyboard in the right positions. The monitor should be eye level, close enough so you can see without straining but not so close that you need to lean back to focus. Your keyboard should be situated in such a way that your arms can be supported and your wrists and hands are inline with your forearms.

Accessories are available if necessary. Certain accessories designed specifically for comfort should be used as well. Keyboards and mouse pads with wrist supports are ideal. Copy stands for placing papers and documents when typing are also a good idea. Footrests should also be available.

Employers should take the time to educate their employees about proper computer ergonomics in order to reduce the effects that computers can have on the eyes, neck, wrists, and so forth. Computer equipment that can exacerbate these problems, such as monitors with flickering screens, should be replaced.

Working at a computer for prolonged periods of time, whether it is part of your job, you’re surfing the Internet, or working on a project, can take a toll on you. Computer ergonomics can help to reduce or alleviate the problems that come from sitting at a desk for too long.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "What Are Computer Ergonomics?." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 3 Feb. 2008. Web. 22 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1302/what-are-computer-ergonomics/ >.