Thursday, June 21, 2007

Spotlight on: desk health

Lots of problems for people stuck at their desk all day ...

"Stuck at your desk all day, glued to your computer screen? For most employees working in a fast-paced, pressurised environment, this is a reality, and it is likely most of us will at some point suffer unnecessary headaches, eye fatigue or bad backs as a result of poor desk habits.

If you went on a health and safety check and induction process when you first joined your company, you may well be aware of your rights to take frequent breaks. You may also have been given instructions by your health and safety officer to carry out an MOT of your desk area: to check that your computer is at the right height in relation to your eye level and that the mouse is placed appropriately to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI) and eye fatigue.

Peer pressure

But how many of you actually took any notice and followed through with these procedures?

A survey of 1,500 UK office workers from market research firm Tickbox.net, carried out on behalf of visual display provider ViewSonic, found that 46% of respondents admitted to spending six or more hours in front of their computer screens. Some 55% of 16- to 24-year-old employees agreed that they were unable to schedule frequent breaks due to excessive workloads or peer/management pressure.

"We are in danger of creating a workforce culture plagued by chronic ill-health," warns Mel Taylor, vice-president and director of European marketing for ViewSonic. She advises employers to promote better desktop ergonomics and urges employees to implement better working practices.

The most worrying statistic from the survey suggests that more than two-thirds of employees would consider suing their employer over health issues. Taylor argues: "Employers may be opening themselves up to serious legal liabilities in the future."

To avoid potential work-related desk injuries, such as neck strain and eye fatigue, Taylor advises employees to adjust their monitors to approximately 10cm below eye level, and a minimum of 64cm away from the eyes. The screen should also be tilted away slightly at the top to accommodate the natural viewing plane of the eye."    (Continued via Personnel Today)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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