Computer ergonomics involves the designing of the working environment, devices, and computer system for a comfortable and safe working area. By designing computers and work environments in an ergonomically sound way, it is possible to reduce health-related issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, vision syndrome, back pains, etc.
The main benefit of following ergonomic guidelines is to reduce work-related injuries hence a comfortable and safe working environment. For good ergonomic practice, take breaks, adopt good posture, protect your eyes, and use the right chair among others discussed in the article. However, if we don’t follow the guidelines then our eyes will have problems, also we will have bad posture, back pains, and stress among other health issues.
Importance of computer ergonomics in the workplace
The main benefit of following computer ergonomic guidelines is to ensure you reduce computer work-related injuries. Computer ergonomics is important to offer the user a comfortable and safe work environment. Below we discuss some specific benefits.
- Comfortable workstation: Proper ergonomics can help make using a computer to be more comfortable, which can help people work for longer periods without experiencing discomfort or pain.
- Increased productivity: After users have a comfortable working environment they work better which improves productivity. Without discomfort, staff can concentrate more on the job than the pain from a poor work environment.
- Prevention of injuries: Poor ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, which can cause pain and discomfort. The disorder can affect fingers, wrists, shoulders, the back, and other parts of the body. By designing computers and work environments in an ergonomically sound way, it is possible to reduce the these risk.
- Overall health and safety of the workforce: Proper ergonomics can help people maintain good posture, which is important for overall health and well-being. It also reduces both physical and psychological stress related to poor ergonomics.
- Cost saving for the organization: when computer ergonomics are implemented it means fewer injuries will occur hence reducing work absenteeism. This ensures the organization’s human resources are used to the optimum. Again it reduces cases where the company is sued by employees for work-related injuries.
Components that need consideration for Ergonomics
When working in a modern office environment there are devices and infrastructure that you deal with that should be considered for proper ergonomics. Each should be considered from an ergonomic point for better use. We discuss some of the common components in an office workstation and their considerations.
- Working desk: this can be at the home or office where you spend your day. It carries most of the devices that you use every day. Your working desk should be wide enough to accommodate all devices. It should be at a height that doesn’t requires you to lift your hands when working. The hards should form a comfortable “L” when sitting.
- Chair: if possible it should be adjustable to align with the working desk. While sitting ensure your feet are flat on the floor. Sit straight with your back hip far back into your chair. Keep shoulders relaxed and straight without slouching forward. You can adjust the chair to meet this requirement. The chair should be comfortable
- Computer screen: this is another device that should be considered for ergonomics. The computer monitor should be positioned such it is directly in front and the top of the screen should be at eye level. Most desktop computers have an adjustable screen to fit different height settings. Use it to ensure you are at a comfortable height away from light glares.
- Mouse and keyboard: when using these make sure your hand makes an “L” shape and your wrist at a comfortable position. Ensure the keyboard and mouse are close enough and you are not stretching to reach them. If possible you can use an ergonomic mousepad and keyboard for operations.
Tips for improved computer safety and ergonomics:
To achieve the best practices when it comes to computer ergonomics you can use the following guidelines to help be safe in your working environment. As you implement these tips please note that always ensure you are comfortable where you are sitting.
- Take small breaks: it is recommended to take a break after every 2 hours of sitting and using a computer. This reduces the strain and stress of working continuously for a long time. When you take a break take a walk away from your working station.
- Set up your workstation correctly: try and position your workstation components as we have indicated above. Adjust your chair and computer monitor to a comfortable height and distance. Keep your keyboard and mouse at elbow level to avoid strain on your wrists and arms.
- Use proper working posture: usually, when working we tend to slouch and lean forward. Be conscious of this and keep on rectifying it to ensure your back is straight and your feet flat on the floor.
- Don’t hold the mouse tightly.
- Protect your eyes: Reduce eye strain by taking breaks to look at something in the distance, and adjust the brightness and contrast on your monitor to a comfortable level. Ensure your monitor is not having light glares that reflect. Check on the monitor height and adjust accordingly.
- The monitor should not be too close to your eye. At least an arm’s length distance will be good.
- Keep your computer and working station clean: Dust and debris can build up on your keyboard, mouse, and monitor, which can lead to problems. Regularly clean these components to keep them in good working condition. Again ensure you clear all unnecessary material and documents on your desk. You can have a clear desk policy, where only necessary items are on the desk.
- Mouse, keyboard, telephone, and printers should be close enough. You should not be straining to reach these devices.
- Don’t use excessive force when using the keyboard. This both affects your fingers and keyboard mechanism.
- Use adjustable chair
Effects of poor computer ergonomics in the workplace
Computer ergonomics is good practice for all computer users, may it be at home, school, office, or any other place. Most time we don’t follow the guidelines which bring about bad side effects on our health. So if we don’t try and follow the guidelines these are some of the health issues that can result from poor computer use.
- Back and neck pains: this results from working when the back, neck, and shoulder are not relaxed. They cause a condition called musculoskeletal disorders. This affects the muscle when they are strained for a long period of time.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: the syndrome mostly affects the fingers and wrists of those people who type on a computer for a long time. The condition comes about due to repetitive actions such as the movement of the finger while typing.
- Computer vision syndrome. It is a combination of many issues that affect eyes which include poor eyesight, blurred vision, and dry eyes. Prolonged use of blue light coming from digital devices such as computer and smartphone affect our eyes. It is always recommended to take a break from the screen and when working to try to focus on objects that are far from the screen.
- Headaches: mostly headaches are a result of physical or psychological stress. When other issues are resolved it also deals with headache issues.
- Bad posture: when you adopt bad posture for a long time you can even walk in a slouched manner. Most of us today walk with our heads down since we are used to that posture when using our smartphones.
- Stress: when the body and mind are tired from strains and work you will have different types of stress. Stress can be physical, mental, or psychological.