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At Work

You sit at your computer for eight hours a day, staring at the monitor and making the same tiny finger motions over and over. Your files are electronic, so you don't even get up to go to a filing cabinet. After a full day of this, you're tired - and maybe you even hurt.

People who work with computers have reported a variety of problems that can be related to work habits, work station design or job design. These complaints include fatigue, eye strain and irritation, blurred vision, headaches and pains in the neck, back, arm and muscles. If you feel any discomfort talk to your GP.

Although the way you work in an office can put a strain on your body, there are things you can do to be more comfortable and to help prevent injuries. More...

  • Are you sitting comfortably?

A properly adjusted chair will reduce the strain that you put on your back. You should be able to alter the height, back position and tilt of your chair. Ensure that your knees are level with your hips.

In order to prevent back injury, you should be sitting up straight while at your desk. If your chair isn't providing enough back support, try using a rolled up towel or cushion until you find a position that's comfortable for you - then adjust the chair accordingly.

Now look at your feet. If they aren't flat on the floor, you may want to consider getting a footrest. This will relieve any pressure on your joints and muscles. Avoid crossing your legs or sitting with one or both legs twisted beneath you.

  • The position of your monitor

Guidelines suggest that the monitor should be positioned approximately 12-30 inches away from your eyes. A good guide to positioning is to place the monitor about an arm's length away. The top of the screen should be roughly at eye level. In order to achieve this position you may need to get a stand for your monitor.

  • Screen reflection and glare

Ideally your computer screen should be as glare-free as possible. This may mean positioning the monitor so that overhead lighting and sunlight are not reflecting on your screen. Try positioning the monitor so that it is at right-angles to the window.

Experiment with your monitor until you find the best position. If glare still is a problem, try using an anti-glare screen. Experiment with the screen settings on your monitor -adjusting the brightness or contrast could make a big difference.

  • Sitting at the keyboard

Keep your wrists in a straight position when using a keyboard, your elbows should be positioned vertically under your shoulders. Position and use the mouse as close to you as you can. Aim to have your elbow vertically under your shoulder and right by your side. Try learning some keyboard short cuts to cut down on the amount of time you spend using a mouse.

  • Take a break

Try to alter your working day so that you don't spend all your time at your computer. For every hour at your keyboard, take at least 5 - 10 minutes rest. Rest your eyes - look away from the screen and focus on something in the distance for a few seconds. Try doing some gentle exercises to help relax the muscles and clear your mind.

Tips:

If you experience any discomfort at your desk - stop what you're doing and take a break.
If you are regularly experiencing aches and pains at work, discuss them with someone who is in a position to help you resolve them.
If symptoms persist speak to your occupational health department or GP.

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