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Computers have helped us make out tasks easier, gather information faster, and linked us together. They have also brought about some hazards. Ergonomic hazards such as carpal tunnel have made their way to headlines as well as bottom lines. The effects of working with computers can also take their toll with complaints such as sore shoulders and headaches.
There are methods to avoid or diminish the risks of hazards associated with computer workstations. This could mean a simple adjustment to the workstation, including adding a footrest or placing a filtering screen on the monitor. Such an adjustment or addition can go a long way in keeping employees from suffering from the effects of a poorly designed workstation. Computer workstation ergonomics is the process of fitting a computer workstation to the user. It helps reduce muscle fatigue, increase productivity, and lessen the number and severity of work-related injuries to the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers, even when workers are in less obvious hazardous ergonomic situations. Awkward postures, fixed workstations, and inadequate supports can cause both costly and significant injuries and illnesses. Many employees are exposed to these hazards, but the main group includes office personnel, retail workers, healthcare workers, and call centers employees.
- Awkward postures: The awkward position your body is in, which in most cases, affects muscle groups that are involved in physical activity. Awkward postures include repeated or prolonged reaching, twisting, bending, kneeling, squatting, working overhead with your hands or arms, or holding fixed positions.
- Contact stress: Occurs while pressing the body against a hard or sharp edge which can result in placing too much pressure on nerves, tendons, and blood vessels. For example, resting your wrist on the edge of the desk can put pressure on the nerves leading into the hand.
- Repetition: The action of performing the same motions over and over again, placing stress on the muscles and tendons. The severity of risk depends on how often the action is repeated, the speed of movement, the number of muscles involved, and the required force.
- Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs): Injuries and disorders of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and cartilage) and nervous system of the upper and lower limbs, neck, and lower back that are caused, precipitated, or exacerbated by sudden exertion or prolonged exposure to physical factors such as repetition, force, vibration, or awkward posture. Here are some common computer workstation MSDs.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: A disorder affecting the hands and wrists, is the compression and entrapment of the median nerve where it passes through the wrist into the hand in the carpal tunnel.
- De Quervain's disease: A disease in which the tendon sheath of the thumb is inflamed.
- Tendinitis: Tendon inflammation that occurs when a muscle or tendon is repeatedly tensed from overuse, vibration, or unaccustomed usage of the wrist and shoulder. With further exertion, some of the fibers that make up the tendon can actually fray or tear apart.
- Tenosynovitis: Inflammation or injury to the synovial sheath surrounding the tendon.
Summary of requirements
- Define clear goals and objectives for the ergonomic process, discuss them with workers, and communicate them clearly to the workforce.
- Assess workstations for ergonomic hazards.
- Provide adjustable equipment such as chairs, monitor arms, and sit-to-stand desks.
- Train employees on ergonomics and how to adjust their workstations
- Setup workstations to ensure:
- Sufficient room for movement in and around the workstation.
- Hands, wrists, and forearms are straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor.
- Head is level, forward facing, and balanced, generally it is in-line with the torso.
- Shoulders are relaxed and upper arms can hang normally at the side of the body.
- Feet are fully supported by the floor or a footrest may be used if the desk height is not adjustable.
- Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly
- Thighs and hips are supported and generally parallel to the floor.
- Knees are about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward.
- Monitor is adjusted to just below eye level.
- Encourage employees to report ergonomic concerns.
- Ensure employees report symptoms or injuries related to MSDs including, but not limited to, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and shoulder pain
- Establish administrative controls such as stretch breaks, more task variety, and increased rest breaks.
- Establish an assessment period to evaluate each computer workstation.
- Involve employees in work-site assessments, solution development, and implementation.
- Consider wall-mounted workstations to save space. These should be quickly and easily adjusted for face-paced environments like healthcare.
- Ensure chairs provide proper support and allow employees to maintain proper posture.
READ MORESHOW LESS
['Ergonomics', 'Specialized Industries', 'General Duty Clause', 'Enforcement and Audits - OSHA', 'Safety and Health Programs and Training']
['Fatigue', 'Posture and Movement', 'Repetitive Motion', 'Food Safety', 'Textile Equipment', 'General Duty Clause Enforcement Areas', 'Safety and Health Programs and Training', 'Ergonomics', 'Healthcare', 'Elements of a General Duty Clause Violation']
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