Health and safety begin at your desk

Health and safety begin at your desk

The simple act of sitting at a desk and working on a computer can put stress and strain on your body, which can result in painful injuries. These can lead to decreased productivity and lost workdays. CLAIRE RENCKEN explores some ways to maintain your health and safety at your work station.

General guidance for home or office:

1. Adjust the backrest of your chair to fully support your lower back, and sit well back into the chair.

2. Adjust the seat height until your forearms are horizontal and wrists straight while using the keyboard. Bring the keyboard close to the edge of the desk, just leaving enough room for a gel-filled wrist rest, if you want one, or to rest the heel of your hands. Avoid pushing your keyboard forward to keep papers in front of it. If you do this, you will probably lean forward to reach it and your back will no longer be supported by your chair.   

3. Do not rest your wrists on the edge of the desk or bend your hands up at the wrist.  Keep a soft touch on the keys and do not overstretch your fingers. Place the mouse right beside the keyboard so that you do not have to stretch.

3. When you have the seat height right, if your feet do not rest comfortably on the floor, use a footrest.

4. The screen should be approximately at arm’s length. Adjust the height so that the top of the screen is at eye level when sitting upright and looking straight ahead. If you need to look at the keyboard to type, the screen can be lowered to avoid repeated neck movements. Adjust the angle of the screen to suit your sitting height.

5. Do not lean over to read documents. Use a document holder, and place it beside the screen at the same distance, height and angle as the screen.

6. Position the work station so that windows and lights are not in your direct line of sight. Sit sideways to windows, and use blinds to cut out unwanted light. Avoid any remaining reflections from windows or lights on the screen by adjusting the screen angle. 

7. Adjust the brightness of the monitor screen to suit the lighting conditions in the room. 

8. If there is a flicker or any other deterioration of the image on the screen, make adjustments or report the matter for repairs.

9. Keep the screen clean.

10. Sitting in the same position, and staring at the screen for long periods, is undesirable. If your time at the keyboard is not interrupted naturally by discussions with colleagues, for example, break the work up with other activities, which require some walking about. Little and often is best. Don’t wait until you ache!

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SHEQ Management

SHEQ MANAGEMENT is the definitive source for reliable, accurate and pertinent information to guarantee environmental health and safety in the workplace.
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