When you work in an office environment, you don’t normally worry about occupational hazards like getting a limb chopped off by a machine or being crushed by heavy equipment. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that office jobs are without risks and hazards of their own. If you work long hours behind a PC, you have probably already experienced that feeling of bleary-eyed fatigue which comes with the territory of being an office worker.
Most office jobs require you to spend at least 8 hours a day staring at your computer. Hence, it makes sense to make sure that you at least spend those 8 hours comfortably and hopefully avoiding any injuries.
On the bright side, most problems which come from computer use are preventable and minor. Unless there is something drastically wrong with your workplace set-up, you are not really likely to do something like electrocute yourself in most situations. Also, contrary to technological superstition there is actually no evidence that electromagnetic radiation from computers causes problems like miscarriages or cataracts.
If you just consistently follow the guidelines below, you’ll likely be less weary at the end of the day. And you may just have enough pep to want to do it all again tomorrow.
It may sound obvious, but not everyone practices good posture while working. Poor posture might be in fact the start of back problems in years to come. Good posture starts with a properly adjusted chair and computer height. Make sure that your chair is adjusted so that it supports your lower back, your knees and hips are level, and your feet are flat on the floor. At the same time, adjust your computer screen so that your eyes are just level with the top. If your feet do not reach the floor, make sure that you have a support such as a foot rest. You should be able to ask for one from your employer if there isn’t one around.
Remember those anti-glare screens that were popular 10 or 15 years ago? The good news is that on most LCD monitors, anti-glare is already built in.
The light that comes off computer screens is tiring in itself to look at for an extended period. The anti-glare is there to prevent additional reflections off the surface of the screen straining your eyes. Make sure you don’t wipe down your screen with wet wipes or anything else that can dissolve the chemical coating which is used for anti-glare in some screens. Also, position your computer so that you are not facing a window and light does not bounce off the screen towards you.
Give your eyes a break by focusing every so often on objects in the distance. Blink frequently.
Repetitive Stress Injury
If you spend a lot of your time pounding away at a keyboard, you may wish to consider using devices that help prevent repetitive stress injury. Using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse helps avoid repeated movements at awkward angles. Wrist pads take the strain off your wrists by keeping them level with your keyboard and can help prevent injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. Your arms and wrists should be parallel to the floor as you type.
Rest and Exercise
It’s important to give yourself a break every now and then. Get up and stretch, walk around for a while. If possible, do this once an hour. Frequent short breaks are better than longer, less frequent breaks. It’s also fairly important that you don’t let your sedentary 8 hours creep into the rest of your life.
Health and safety around computers may be tiresome but necessary. At worst, it may be true that a stitch in time saves nine, especially if those stitches are surgical ones for your repetitive stress injury. Go on and save that click-ey finger! You may need it sometime when you’re old.