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Health and Safety. AS Module 1 10.10 Heathcote Ch. 13. Computers and Health. Not so long ago, computers were expected to release humans from the drudgery of boring and repetitive work Nowadays, computers are deemed responsible for a whole range of health hazards Stress RSI Eyestrain

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Health and safety

Health and Safety

AS Module 1 10.10

Heathcote Ch. 13

Computers and health
Computers and Health

  • Not so long ago, computers were expected to release humans from the drudgery of boring and repetitive work

  • Nowadays, computers are deemed responsible for a whole range of health hazards

    • Stress

    • RSI

    • Eyestrain

    • ELF radiation

    • Backache


  • Major factor in work-related illness

  • Ways in which computers put pressure on workers:

    • They may be used to monitor performance

    • They induce fear and panic – particularly in older people

    • It can be impossible to escape them

      • Mobile phones, modems, laptops

    • Information overload

    • Speed of development contributes to stress-related illnesses

Rsi repetitive strain injury
RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)

  • Usually affects hands, wrists, elbows, arms, shoulders and neck

  • Can develop to be very debilitating

  • Once it develops it tends to recur

  • HSE says more than 100,000 workers suffer to some degree


  • Long hours spent in front of a screen

  • No evidence that computers cause permanent damage

  • The following factors all contribute to at least temporary eyestrain

    • Glare

    • Improper lighting

    • Improperly corrected vision (wrong glasses)

    • Poor work practices

    • Poorly designed workstations

Elf extremely low frequency radiation
ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) Radiation

  • Exposure to ELF is an everyday occurrence

    • Can occur naturally – sun, fire, magnetic effects

  • Research suggests that effects of ELF are increasing

  • Some studies try to link ELF to early miscarriages

  • No clear-cut results

    • There is evidence of some correlation between miscarriages and hours spent at a VDU

    • This could be due to other factors such as stress and workplace conditions

  • Ongoing controversy over mobile phones

Computers health and the law 1
Computers, Health and the Law 1

  • Employers are required to:

    • Perform an analysis of workstations in order to evaluate the safety and health conditions to which they give rise

    • Provide training to employees in the use of workstation components

    • Ensure employees take regular breaks or changes in activity

    • Provide regular eye tests for workstation users and pay for glasses

Computers health and the law 2
Computers, Health and the Law 2

  • Employees have a responsibility to:

    • Use workstations and equipment correctly, in accordance with training provided by employers

    • Bring problems to the attention of their employer immediately and co-operate in the correction of these problems

Computers health and the law 3
Computers, Health and the Law 3

  • Manufacturers are required to ensure that their products comply with the Directive. For example:

    • Screens must tilt and swivel

    • Keyboards must be separate and moveable

    • Notebook PCs are not suitable for entering large amounts of data

The ergonomic environment
The Ergonomic Environment

  • Ergonomics refers to the design and functionality of the environment, and encompasses the entire range of environmental factors. Employers must give consideration to:

    • Lighting: office well lit, with blinds

    • Furniture: chairs of adjustable height, with tilting backrest, swiveling on five-point base

    • Work space: combination of chair, desk, computer, accessories, lighting, heating and ventilation all contribute to overall well-being

    • Noise: e.g. noisy printers relocated

    • Hardware: screen must tilt and swivel and be flicker-free, the keyboard separately attached

    • Software: should facilitate task, be easy to use and adaptable to user’s experience