Osha And Computer Ergonomics


by Barbara J. Feldman on February 14, 2008

Most people spend a certain amount of time at the computer each day. In this electronic age, it is not unusual to spend time on the computer not only to work or to do homework, but to handle finances, shop, or communicate with friends and family via instant messengers.

However, spending a lot of time in front of the computer isn’t always good for our overall health. Studies have shown that long periods of time sitting at a computer desk and staring at the screen can cause some of the following problems:

 Eye strain: Flickering screens, poor lighting, glare, and computer screens placed too close or too far away can cause strain to the eyes. This, in turn, can lead to headaches.

 Back pain: A chair with little or poor support can cause strain to the back if you are sitting at a computer all day.

 Carpal tunnel syndrome/wrist strain: Spending hours on end typing and moving the mouse around can strain the wrists. This condition, in which the nerve that runs from the hand to the forearm becomes pinched, can result in numbness and pain in the arm. Many people attribute one of its causes to typing or using a computer.

What is the OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration works to set guidelines and ensure that employees throughout the country are working in safe and healthy conditions. They also work to identify risks and hazards in various occupations.

Because of the risks associated with computer use, the OSHA has set forth a number of guidelines designed specifically for those who spend time at their computers or who have computer-based jobs.

Applying OSHA computer ergonomics

The following are some computer ergonomics guidelines set forth by the OSHA that can greatly reduce your chances of being harmed working at your computer:

Monitor

The computer monitor itself can be the source of eye strain and headaches if it is not properly set up. Flickering screens can also cause headaches and eye problems, so they should be adjusted if you find your monitor is flickering. The placement of the monitor should be eye level and an anti-glare screen should be installed, if possible.

Keyboard

Unless you are using a laptop computer, your keyboard should be placed so that your elbows can rest comfortably at your sides. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor and have desk space to rest on to minimize strain on the wrists. In addition, the keyboard should not be angled up too sharply to prevent awkward straining of the fingers.

Mouse

The computer’s mouse, on many computers, are wireless, so the use of a mouse pad is often not necessary. However, it is a good idea to have a mouse pad that has a wrist support if you use your mouse often, or more than your keyboard.

Chair

Your chair will have a big impact on your overall computer ergonomics if you are on your computer a lot. Your back should be supported sufficiently and the height of the chair should be adjustable. You don’t necessarily need arm rests, as your desk should allow you to rest your forearms comfortably. The chair should also have wheels.

The OSHA is in place to ensure the safety of employees in the workplace. If your job does not provide workstations in accordance with OSHA guidelines, consider talking to your employer about implementing some changes around the office.


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