ICT

Health and Safety

There are various health problems associated with the regular use of computers. For this reason employers must be aware of the regulations surrounding computer health and safety.

Employer regulations

The law states that an employer must:

  • provide tiltable screens
  • provide anti-glare screen filters
  • provide adjustable chairs
  • provide foot supports
  • make sure lighting is suitable
  • make sure workstations [workstation: a computer connected to a network ] are not cramped
  • plan work at a computer so that there are frequent breaks
  • pay for appropriate eye and eyesight tests by an optician

Note: These regulations do not apply to students in schools or colleges.

In order to provide the satisfactory equipment for their employees, employers use ergonomics to assist the equipment design process. It is the science concerned with designing safe and comfortable working environments for humans. This includes furniture design and the design of parts of the computer like the keyboard and mouse.

General working environment

Don't forget that rules for all electrical appliances apply in a computer room. This means:

  • there should be no trailing wires
  • food and drink should not be placed near a machine
  • electrical sockets must not be overloaded
  • there must be adequate space around the machine
  • heating and ventilation must be suitable
  • lighting must be suitable with no glare or reflections
  • benches must be strong enough to support the computers

Possible dangers and solutions

Within information technology it is important that people have an awareness of the various health and safety issues. Steps should also be taken towards preventing common problems rather than trying to cure them at a later date.

Back problems

Many computer users suffer serious back problems. This is probably due to a poor posture or an awkward position while sitting at a computer.

Solutions

  • A fully adjustable chair should avoid poor posture.
  • Footrests can reduce these problems.
  • Screens should tilt and turn to a position that avoids awkward movements.
user sat on adjustable chair, at an adjustable desk with foot rest and adjustable monitor

Eyestrain

Eyes can become strained after staring at a computer screen for a long time, particularly if working in bad light, in glare or with a flickering screen.

Solutions

  • Screen filters can remove a high percentage of the harmful rays emitted from a computer screen.
  • Use screens that do not flicker.
  • Take regular breaks - do not work for more than one hour without a break.
  • Lighting must be suitable and blinds fitted to windows to reduce glare.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

silver and black keyboard with two hands typing

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is damage to the fingers, wrists and other parts of the body due to repeated movements over a long period of time.

Solution

  • To prevent RSI, make sure your posture is correct, use wrist rests and have a five-minute break from typing every hour.

Ozone irritation

Health experts have suggested that ozone emitted from laser printers [laser printer: pages are printed by fusing the ink to the paper using direct contact and heat ] can lead to breathing problems.

Solution

  • It is recommended that laser printers should be situated at least one metre away from where people are sitting and there should be good ventilation in the area.

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