Articles, Ergonomics

IT: First Line of Defense Against Computer Injuries

Small changes that can make a big difference in comfort

Last week, I visited a major law firm. One IT staff member had piled extra shoes under her workstation, tangling the cords so she couldn’t pull her keyboard forward. Piles of cord spaghetti were everywhere. Before long, I was sitting on the floor, untwisting cables. When you pay attention to all aspects of your workspace-even the cables-you can work more comfortably. When cords can move freely, it’s easy to keep your keyboard and mouse in the best positions.

IT staff members with lots of computer knowledge but little experience with muscles, tendons, joints, and bones can spread safe work habits throughout an organization. When IT staffers pay attention to ergonomics, they and their colleagues stay healthy. And I stay off the floor. Here are some ways your IT department can help prevent injuries:

Location, location, location. Expect IT to help you find the best place for your machine. If your workspace has a window, your monitor should be perpendicular to the window. In many offices, the location of electrical outlets determines the location of the computer workspace. Choose the most appropriate spot to work, then, if necessary, request that cabling and electrical outlets be changed.

Positioning. Expect IT to help you sit correctly. If a technician drops a machine on your work surface, be sure to check that monitor, keyboard, and your body are centered on the same line. If your equipment is too heavy to move, IT should reposition it.

Cord control. Expect IT to make it easy for you to change positions throughout the day. When cords are tangled and twisted, you lose flexibility to adjust the position of your equipment. IT can help you untangle and control cords.

Equipment trade–ins. Expect IT to help you choose equipment that suits your size and work habits. Even though your keyboard makes you uncomfortable, it might be just fine for the person down the hall. IT can help you exchange equipment.

Cleaning. Expect IT to help you keep your equipment clean. IT can clean your equipment or show you how. For example, request screen wipes to clean your monitor.

For smaller busineses or at home

Look at your room. Determine the ideal spot for your computer, regardless of furniture, cable, and outlets. Try to get your monitor 90 degrees to natural light.

Look at your workstation. Make sure your monitor, keyboard, and chair are centered on the same line.

Look at your cables. Are they twisted? Can you take advantage of their full length? Remember, your keyboard and mouse should be as close to your body as possible.

Look at yourself. Are you sitting in the chair, not on it? Sit all the way back in the seat and keep your shoulders back.

Look at the dust! Buy a can of duster to blow all the dust and grit out of your keyboard. Clean your screen every day.

Time to move? Your computer is easy to move. When you take time to adjust your computer’s location you can work more comfortably and prevent injury and eye strain.

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