DISPLAY SCREEN EQUIPMENT

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1 DISPLAY SCREEN EQUIPMENT SETTING UP AND USING THE WORKSTATION Adjusting the Workstation The workstation includes: the chair a footrest, if required the keyboard, mouse or other input devices the display screen equipment the worktop layout. A properly set up and adjusted workstation is important to general health and longterm well-being. There is no single, perfect workstation arrangement that suits every 1

2 user or any one job. Each individual will need to adjust it to their own specific needs and the work that they are doing. This should be done with the advice of competent personnel who have been involved in the workstation assessment. The full range of adjustments and subject issues to consider should be discussed with each DSE operator. A properly and correctly adjusted workstation is one that: is comfortable and pleasant to use prevents ill-health increases productivity. Adjusting the chair to the correct position A suitably adjusted chair is important to short-term comfort and long-term well-being. Poor posture can cause backache and pain in the neck and shoulders. Working for long periods in an awkward position can cause fatigue in the short-term and the strain on joints and muscles can cause harm in the long-term. Many people sit badly and it can take time and effort to learn how to sit properly. 1. Seat height and tilt. Adjust the height of the chair s seat so that the forearms are about horizontal with the keyboard. Adjust the tilt (if the seat has this feature) so that the thighs are horizontal and the feet are flat on the floor or the footrest. The aim is to rest the weight on the buttocks, not on the thighs. 2. Back pad or seat back support. The back pad should be independently adjustable (both in angle of back support and its position) - adjust it to support the lower back so it fits the natural inward curve of the spine. Adopt an upright posture with an erect head and relaxed shoulders, but avoiding a rigid posture. Frequently varying position helps avoid stiffness, but always return to a healthy upright posture regularly. 3. Arm rests. If present on the chair, these should not interfere with keying and should allow the chair under the desk. If possible, adjust them to suit you. If they cause problems, report this to your manager. Try to avoid using arm rests during keying - use them between tasks. 4. Chair position. When positioning the chair it is important to allow enough room under the desk for changes of position. You may want to stretch or cross your legs during the day, or move your chair to work on another part of the desk. Allowing sufficient space will allow for changes of position and prevent stiffness. Do not store items under the desk and avoid sitting to near to drawer units. Re-adjust the chair during the day to suit different tasks. Correct posture is very important. Leaning over the desk, slouching or leaning back will cause back or shoulder ache. It will also make it impossible to use the keyboard or mouse properly. 2

3 Ensuring good posture 1. Adopt a relaxed but not rigid position and change position regularly. 2. Do not remain fixed; regular changes of position are important. Move about and change position, but always return to the upright posture. 3. Practice good posture. It can take a while to learn or change bad habits. It may cause some back or shoulder ache to start with as muscles get used to new positions. Other Adjustments As well as the seat, back and wrist supports and the screen, the keyboard and devices such as the mouse need to be adjusted to suit individuals and their work. Different people have different needs, just as different jobs need different working methods. Workstations should be adjusted as often as required - the following is a useful checklist: 1. Adjust the seat so that the forearms are level with the desk and at about keyboard height. 2. Make sure the wrists are in a relaxed position. 3. Put the feet flat on the floor or on the footrest. 4. Make sure there is enough room in front of the keyboard to rest hands and wrists between keying. 5. Adjust or move the screen to prevent glare or reflections either from daylight or artificial light. 6. Adjust the screen brightness and contrast to suit each job and time of day. 7. Keep the screen clean. 8. Face the screen with the head in a natural position. Adjust the screen so that the top is just below the eye line. Touch typists may prefer to face a document holder and have the screen to one side. Either way is suitable providing it means there are reduced head movements. 9. Keep everything required for the job close at hand to avoid twisting, stretching, reaching or leaning. 10. Report any concerns or problems to your line manager or supervisor. Once the workstation is set up properly it must be used correctly. The aim should be to spread display screen work over the day, completing other work to break it up. Try to get up and move about after an hour by filing, planning the work to fit around the lunch break, making phone calls throughout the day rather than all at once, even going to the toilet. HEALTH EFFECTS: FACT AND FICTION The ill-health effects associated with display screens include: 3

4 visual discomfort (eye fatigue and headaches) upper limb disorders, collectively known as musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) aches and pains (back, shoulder, neck or wrist aches) stress (mental and physical). The risk of suffering from these conditions depends on the working environment, how the workstation is set up, how it is used and how the work is organised. Unsafe uses of display screens include: working with a poor posture working for too long without a break or change of position poor working environment poor management of workload. There have been many misconceptions about display screens. There is no current evidence that display screens give off harmful radiation, cause complications during pregnancy or epileptic seizures or fits. Display screens do not damage eyesight. However, they can cause visual fatigue or eyestrain due to the work or the working environment. Vision Problems Vision problems, headaches or eye fatigue - usually sore, irritated or tired eyes - can be the result of working for too long without a rest from screen work, an environment that is too dry, or glare on the screen. Headaches or eye fatigue can also be related to existing eyesight conditions. Because display screen work can be intense or involve looking at a screen for prolonged periods, it can aggravate existing eye conditions. Also, most people s eyes deteriorate as they grow older, and because display screen work involves concentrating on a screen for long periods, it can be a strain on the eye muscles. Contact lens wearers may suffer from eye irritation when using display screens. This can be caused by a dry atmosphere or because display screen users tend to blink less. If staff have any problems they should report them to their line manager and discuss arrangements for an eyesight test (see page 6). Not everyone needs an eye test, but it may help to identify the cause of fatigue, eyestrain or headaches. The optician may prescribe corrective spectacles and it is important to follow any advice given. Other Health Problems General fatigue or minor aches and pains are usually the sign that the workstation is not set up or used correctly. However, aches or pains may also indicate other problems. Many of the musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow start with numbness, tingling or aching in the hands, fingers or 4

5 limbs. These conditions may be aggravated by work and may only become evident during a working day. Backache, for example, may indicate poor posture, but it may also be related to other work or an existing back condition. Anyone who suffers from these types of problem must report to their line manager and arrange to get some medical advice as soon as possible. There has been a lot of publicity about work-related mental stress recently. Display screen work can be stressful because of increased pace or pressure, or due to a poorly organised workload. If systems do not function properly this can also increase stress levels. These problems can be overcome by training, correct use of the workstation and good organisation of the work. If staff feel that the work is making them feel pressurised or ill they should discuss this with their line manager. Where concerns may persist, they should advise their own general practitioner. PREVENTING HEALTH PROBLEMS Adopting a good posture and regularly changing position is the basic key to preventing aches and pains. Learning to adjust and use chairs properly is important and so is practising good posture. However, sitting in any one position will cause discomfort after a while. Every opportunity should be taken to change position, but always to return to an upright sitting posture. Sitting at a desk all day can be hard on a body. To remain supple and prevent stiffness there are some simple exercises that can help to prevent the onset of fatigue and aches and pains, loosen muscles and maintain flexibility. These are as follows. 1. Warm up - Just before starting work, flex the fingers and wrists. Rub your hands together to warm up the muscles. 2. Eyes - Regularly look away from the screen at objects in the far distance, either at the extremes of the workplace or outside if possible. 3. Neck - Face straight ahead, slowly turn the head one way then the other. Roll your head from side to side. 4. Shoulders - Shrug the shoulders and release. 5. Arms - Reach the arms up straight over the head and stretch. 6. Back - Move slightly forward on the chair; straighten up raising your chest up and out. Hold for a few seconds, and then relax. 7. Wrists - Flex and rotate the wrists, spread the fingers as wide as and hands possible and hold for a few seconds. 5

6 8. Repeat the above exercises a few times. Eye and Eyesight Tests All DSE users who work at a DSE on average for more than four hours per day are entitled to an eye and eyesight test to be carried out at intervals recommended by the person who carried out the previous test (usually every two years). All tests are specifically for users of DSE and must be arranged through the Human Resource department. Visual discomfort Where a member of staff experiences visual difficulties and has reason to believe that these may be caused by work with DSE, the University will offer an eye and eyesight test. Costs of testing The costs of eye and eyesight tests (up to 20) will be met by the University, provided that testing has been arranged through the University. Where a member of staff obtains a test independently and without the knowledge of the Human Resource Department, even if the test is specifically related to display screen use, the University shall not be responsible for the costs incurred. Supply of glasses Where glasses are found necessary, specifically for the use of DSE, the University will contribute towards the purchase. This can be used to obtain a standard frame and lenses, or be put towards a more expensive model. Evidence of purchase must be produced. Care and replacement of glasses Staff are responsible for the safekeeping of their glasses. Further Advice If you require any further advice on any of the above matters, please contact your line manager or the University Safety Manager. (Tony Everett Ext or by ). 6

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