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 2 Figure 3

This is a double key operation. Instead of stretching two fingers on one hand
to do this operation, use both hands. No matter what kind of a pace you are on
when doing work, take breaks every ten minutes or so in addition to your hourly
breaks. These breaks need only be a few moments at a time. If breaks are not
taken at this pace, you may be subjecting yourself to injuries in the back, neck,
wrists and fingers. Also, when using the mouse, do not grip it tightly. Most
mice that are used in offices today are not designed with human factors in mind.
Some mice, like the Microsoft mouse, are designed to fit the contour of your
hand. Although this may seem nice, it