Computer Ergonomics in the Work Place

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Computer Ergonomics In The Work Place

Business strive for high production at low cost. This would result in the highest profit for a company. To many businesses, this is only a mirage. This is because the 'low cost' of the business usually results in a 'high cost' for the employees. This high cost is lower quality workplace items, lower salaries, less benefits, etc. These costs create an upset workplace environment. Companies understand that the more efficient their workers are, the more productive their business will become. Although this will take lots of money at first, the result will be extreme success. There exist many different things in the workplace that add to stress and injuries. They range from lifting heavy boxes to typing too much on the keyboard. This paper will be focusing on the principals of ergonomics in the computer workstation. According to the Board of Certification for Professional Ergonomists (BCPE), the definition of ergonomics "is a body of knowledge about human abilities, human limitations and human characteristics that are relevant to design. Ergonomic design is the application of this body of knowledge to the design of tools, machines, systems, tasks, jobs, and environments for safe, comfortable and effective human use."(BCPE, 1993) In the average computer workstation, employees are prone to over a dozen hazards. There exist two factors that can prevent this: forming good work habits and ergonomically designed computer workstations. We will discuss these preventions throughout the paper.

First, a few terms may need defining. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) takes place from the repeated physical movements of certain body parts which results in damage to tendons, nerves, muscles, and other soft body tissues. If these injuries are not taken care of immediately, permanent damage could be done. A few common results of RSI's that were not taken care of right away are injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendentious, Tenosynovitis, DeQuervain's Syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome etc. All of these are able to be prevented by the use of good working habits and ergonomic engineering.i Usually, ergonomically designing a computer workstation would cost about $1000. This expense could be eliminated by the formation of good work habits. This is essential for the safety of computer terminal employees. There exist a number of precautions that can be taken into consideration when dealing with a computer workstation. We shall discuss six of them. First, the whole body must be relaxed. The correct posture is shown in Figure 1. Notice that the arms and thighs are parallel to the floor and the feet are flat on the floor. Also notice that the wrists are not bent in any way. This is one of the most damaged parts of the body when speaking of (RSI).

Figure 1

The wrists, when typing, should not be rested on anything when typing. This would cause someone to stretch their fingers to hit keys. They should also be straight: not bent up, down, or to the side. The correct position is portrayed in figure 2, incorrect in figure 3. Studies show that these steps are easier to perform while the keyboard is not tilted toward the user. When it is tilted, it is natural to rest your wrists on the table. This puts the keyboard at a lower level, creating a more natural position. Another practice that should be taken into consideration is how hard you press on the keys. The user is not supposed to hit the keys. This may cause damage to the tendons and nerves in the fingers. Instead, use a soft touch, not only will your fingers thank you for it, the keyboard will too! Keeping in mind not to stretch your fingers when typing, use two hands to perform double-key operations. For example, you need to capitalize the first letter in every sentence, therefore, you would hold down the shift and press the first letter.

Figure 2Figure 3

This is a double key operation. Instead of...
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