If you work a lot at a computer, you need to be aware of the possibilities of repetitive strain injuries and how to prevent them.
Since computers with display screens were introduced to the workplace, a whole variety of related disorders have sprung up in computer operators. Studies have shown between 50 and 80 per cent of operators suffer physical problems such as back, neck and shoulder strain, and pain in fingers, hands and forearms.
Increased demand for high levels of output from these operators not only puts physical strain on the operator but psychological stress as well.
The result of all this physical and psychological stress in computer operators is fatigue. If measures are not taken to relieve such stress, both the productivity and the health of the operator decline.
Taking breaks is the traditional way to relieve fatigue, however standard.
short-term work pauses in the morning, afternoon, at meal time and longer term breaks, including a day or weekend off have been found to be insufficient.
Some researchers recommend intensive working computer operators take more frequent short breaks during their workday that incorporate some exercise. All exercise routines must be safe, appropriate, and designed with professional advice.
Here are some suggested “active” breaks which may benefit computer operators. Discuss them with your supervisor:
Take between 20 seconds and two minutes a few times an hour to look away from the computer screen to rest your eyes.
Take a pause of between five and 10 minutes every hour of computer operation to perform some movement or exercise away from your work station.
Longer breaks of between 20 and 60 minutes may be taken every three to four hours to counteract the longer-term fatigue that builds up over extended work periods.
Shifting to non-computer work involving physical movement is one way to stay productive during breaks.
If active breaks are incorporated into a computer operator’s workday, there is a good chance of increased productivity and decreased injuries and fatigue.