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Computer Use, Ergonomics & RSI

Workplace equipment & comfort is linked to work performance.  Computer use is one example of this.  It has been linked to neck pain, fatigue, depression, migraines, eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome.  Ergonomic chairs, keyboard mouse devices and arm rests have helped with many of these health concerns. Taking 10 minute screen breaks every hour is also beneficial for mental well being, sleep and musculoskeletal health.

Knowledge about improved sitting posture and modifications of posture and arm use can reduce the chances of getting RSI’s (Repetitive Strain Injuries).  Physical therapy and exercises can help later stage RSIs.  It’s best to communicate with staff about health conditions and progress, as well as to regularly meet to discuss any changes that can be made to improve comfort.

Office Temperature & Air Conditioning

Office temperature and air conditioning need to be monitored as part of every companies health risk management programme.  Very high or low temperatures may contribute to heat stress, cold stress or dehydration.  Employers can help prevent absences related to extremely high or low temperatures by providing adequate heating and insulation, air conditioning, cold water dispensers and in some cases relaxing the dress code (without relaxing the protective equipment regulations).

Sick Building Syndrome

Sick Building Syndrome is a collection of symptoms thought to be the result of time spent in a particular building (usually a workplace). Most at risk are office workers with windows that do not open and artificial ventilation.  SBS occurs more frequently in women than in men and can include the following:

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Eye and throat irritation
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Skin irritation
  • Poor concentration
  • Aches and pains

Researchers have not yet found a way to identify the cause of SBS.  If your colleagues report similar symptoms it may be a workplace issue.  Employers have a duty of care to address this.  For more information, contact your local Health and Safety Executive (HSE) office.  Remember that healthy employees are productive employees.