World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 24 2008
Health Hazards Related to Computer use: Experience of the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania V. P. Mvungi, J. Mcharo, M. E. Mmbuji, L. E. Mgonja, and A. Y. Kitua developed awareness of the potential benefits derived from the use of computers. Computer facilities were introduced in NIMR in early 1990s through acquiring two desktop computers, which by then were restricted to secretarial services, being among the functions that PCs can accomplish effectively and for which relevant software were readily available. With time, PC computing power increased, varieties of software become available at minimal costs, and NIMR Management responded by acquiring more computers to fill up gaps whenever realized. Currently, almost all NIMR offices are equipped with at least a computer set. There have been fears on the potential health problems that computer users may face, the worries that made producers to react by preparing and distributing articles to counter its effects on computer market growth. Funds were also made available to conduct research work on the area. Consequently, numerous studies have been conducted worldwide in attempt to specifically determine the nature and extent to which health hazards may be present from prolong exposure to computer . The computer related injuries cover a wide variety of health problems caused by or contributed by computer usage [3-4], which are all preventable . The most common reported medical problems are eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back strain, conjunctivitis (itchy, bloodshot eyes) and dermatitis . The problems associated with computer usage have been reported in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America over a decade ago. The UK government established a legislation to protect computer operators from the risks inherent in computer use , by setting out legal requirements of employers for their computer operators. The requirements aims at ensuring that; all computers fit a minimum specification for health use, all work stations are assessed for risk and computer equipment are fit for the job to avoid strains and discomfort. Furthermore; all users be made to take regular breaks from computer work, eye tests and special glasses be provided if requested, training on computer safety be provided to all computer users and users be given relevant information relating to their health and safety. NIMR uses computers not only in facilitating research activities, but also to keep and process financial transactions, produce reports and to accomplish all secretarial duties. The use of computers by the majority of NIMR staff has reduced
Abstract—This paper is based on a study conducted in 2006 to assess the impact of computer usage on health of National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) staff. NIMR being a research Institute, most of its staff spend substantial part of their working time on computers. There was notion among NIMR staff on possible prolonged computer usage health hazards. Hence, a study was conducted to establish facts and possible mitigation measures. A total of 144 NIMR staff were involved in the study of whom 63.2% were males and 36.8% females aged between 20 and 59 years. All staff cadres were included in the sample. The functions performed by Institute staff using computers includes; data management, proposal development and report writing, research activities, secretarial duties, accounting and administrative duties, on-line information retrieval and online communication through e-mail services. The interviewed staff had been using computers for 1-8 hours a day and for a period ranging from 1 to 20 years. The study has indicated ergonomic hazards for a significant proportion of interviewees (63%) of various kinds ranging from backache to eyesight related problems. The authors highlighted major issues which are substantially applicable in preventing...
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