Friday, September 26, 2008

How Much Time Do You Spend on the Computer?

An excerpt from the October 2008 Safety Wave Newsletter, Tulane. Office of Environmental Health & Safety (OEHS)

Computer work may appear to require little effort, but maintaining postures and performing highly repetitive tasks can lead to problems in localized areas of the body such as the hands and wrists, neck, and shoulder muscles. Many computer workstation tasks are highly repetitive, requiring the same motions at a fast pace and with little variation. There may be inadequate time for your muscles and tendons to recover. Combining repetitive tasks with factors such as awkward postures and force may increase the risk of injury. Even the most well-designed workstation cannot eliminate all highly repetitive motions, especially for data input. For this reason it is extremely important to maintain good posture, perform hand tasks with the wrist in a straight and neutral position, have an adjustable workstation, and to take frequent breaks.

As a rule, OEHS suggests the following ergonomic tips:
1. Heavy computer tasking requires the user to take a ten minute task break every hour.

2. Light to Moderate computer tasking requires the user to take a 15 minute task break every two hours.

3. What is a Task Break?
  • Filing – walking to a file cabinet.
  • Copying – walking to a copier.
  • Mail Run – walking to deliver or get mail.
  • Stretching – stretches at copier or while walking to file cabinet, getting mail, etc.

For more information, visit OSHA’s eTools or the OEHS website.

Environmental Health & Safety
Pam Fatland, Editor
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