Monday, August 31, 2009

computer safety and ergonomics

Today we are going to talk about Ergonmics and computer safety. First a few words about Ergonmics:

This information is brought to us by:

Historically, Ergonomics was another name for Human Factors. Today, Ergonomics commonly refers to designing work environments for maximizing safety and efficiency. Biometrics and Anthropometrics play a key role in this use of the word Ergonomics. Engineering Psychology often has a specialty dealing with Workplace or Occupational Ergonomics.

Companies once thought that there was a bottom-line tradeoff between safety and efficiency. Now they embrace ergonomics because they have learned that designing a safe work environment can also result in greater efficiency and productivity. Recently, U.S. laws requiring a safe work environment have stimulated great interest in Ergonomics - from ergonomic furniture to ergonomic training. But it is in the design of the workplace as a whole where the greatest impact can be seen for both safety and efficiency.

The easier it is to do a job, the more likely it is to see gains in productivity due to greater efficiency. Analogously, the safer it is to do a job, the more likely it is to see gains in productivity due to reduced time off for injury. Ergonomics can address both of these issues concurrently by maximizing the workspace and equipment needed to do a job.

OSHA has Computer Ergonmic standards avalible on their web site: (or you can just read the following - but for more information check out:)

Millions of people work with computers every day. This eTool* illustrates simple, inexpensive principles that will help you create a safe and comfortable computer workstation. There is no single “correct” posture or arrangement of components that will fit everyone. However, there are basic design goals, some of which are shown in the accompanying figure, to consider when setting up a computer workstation or performing computer-related tasks. Consider your workstation as you read through each section and see if you can identify areas for improvement in posture, component placement, or work environment. This eTool provides suggestions to minimize or eliminate identified problems, and allows you to create your own "custom-fit" computer workstation.

This checklist can help you create a safe and comfortable computer workstation. You can also use it in conjunction with the purchasing guide checklist [49 KB, 4 pages]. A "no" response indicates that a problem may exist. Refer to the appropriate section of the eTool for assistance and ideas about how to analyze and control the problem.
WORKING POSTURES–The workstation is designed or arranged for doing computer tasks so it allows your:

1. Head and neck to be upright, or in-line with the torso (not bent down/back). If "no" refer to Monitors, Chairs and Work Surfaces.

2. Head, neck, and trunk to face forward (not twisted). If "no" refer to Monitors or Chairs.

3. Trunk to be perpendicular to floor (may lean back into backrest but not forward). If "no" refer to Chairs or Monitors.

4. Shoulders and upper arms to be in-line with the torso, generally about perpendicular to the floor and relaxed (not elevated or stretched forward). If "no" refer to Chairs.

5. Upper arms and elbows to be close to the body (not extended outward). If "no" refer to Chairs, Work Surfaces, Keyboards, and Pointers.

6. Forearms, wrists, and hands to be straight and in-line (forearm at about 90 degrees to the upper arm). If "no" refer to Chairs, Keyboards, Pointers.

7. Wrists and hands to be straight (not bent up/down or sideways toward the little finger). If "no" refer to Keyboards, or Pointers

8. Thighs to be parallel to the floor and the lower legs to be perpendicular to floor (thighs may be slightly elevated above knees). If "no" refer to Chairs or Work Surfaces.

9. Feet rest flat on the floor or are supported by a stable footrest. If "no" refer to Chairs, Work Surfaces.

SEATING–Consider these points when evaluating the chair:

10. Backrest provides support for your lower back (lumbar area).

11. At width and depth accommodate the specific user (seat pan not too big/small)

12. Seat front does not press against the back of your knees and lower legs (seat pan not too long).

13. Seat has cushioning and is rounded with a "waterfall" front (no sharp edge).

14. Armrests, if used, support both forearms while you perform computer tasks and they do not interfere with movement.

KEYBOARD/INPUT DEVICE–Consider these points when evaluating the keyboard or pointing device. The keyboard/input device is designed or arranged for doing computer tasks so the

15. Keyboard/input device platform(s) is stable and large enough to hold a keyboard and an input device.

16. Input device (mouse or trackball) is located right next to your keyboard so it can be operated without reaching.

17. Input device is easy to activate and the shape/size fits your hand (not too big/small).

18. Wrists and hands do not rest on sharp or hard edges.

MONITOR–Consider these points when evaluating the monitor. The monitor is designed or arranged for computer tasks so the:

19. Top of the screen is at or below eye level so you can read it without bending your head or neck down/back.

20. User with bifocals/trifocals can read the screen without bending the head or neck backward.

21. Monitor distance allows you to read the screen without leaning your head, neck or trunk forward/backward.

22. Monitor position is directly in front of you so you don't have to twist your head or neck.

23. Glare (for example, from windows, lights) is not reflected on your screen which can cause you to assume an awkward posture to clearly see information on your screen.

WORK AREA–Consider these points when evaluating the desk and workstation. The work area is designed or arranged for doing computer tasks so the:

24. Thighs have sufficient clearance space between the top of the thighs and your computer table/keyboard platform (thighs are not trapped).

25. Legs and feet have sufficient clearance space under the work surface so you are able to get close enough to the keyboard/input device.

26. Document holder, if provided, is stable and large enough to hold documents.

27. Document holder, if provided, is placed at about the same height and distance as the monitor screen so there is little head movement, or need to re-focus, when you look from the document to the screen.

28. Wrist/palm rest, if provided, is padded and free of sharp or square edges that push on your wrists.

29. Wrist/palm rest, if provided, allows you to keep your forearms, wrists, and hands straight and in-line when using the keyboard/input device.

30. Telephone can be used with your head upright (not bent) and your shoulders relaxed (not elevated) if you do computer tasks at the same time.


31. Workstation and equipment have sufficient adjustability so you are in a safe working posture and can make occasional changes in posture while performing computer tasks.

32. Computer workstation, components and accessories are maintained in serviceable condition and function properly.

33. Computer tasks are organized 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.

Now if your answer was NO to any of these question - you should make adjustments accordingly. For more information from OSHA be sure to visit their web site.

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Please check out our web site. We specialize in helping senior citizens with their computer needs. My name is Stacey Kile and this has been your blog from Simply Seniors Computer Tutor. 321-431-3866

Wishing you - Happy (and safe) Computing!