Staff who habitually use a computer should read the guidance on setting up and using computers in the short guide on basic health and safety, and complete a self-assessment in order to identify any potential problems. The self-assessment forms must be given to your local Health and Safety Coordinator.
It is important that computer users should adopt good posture while seated at the screen in order to avoid aches, pains and more permanently disabling musculo-skeletal conditions.
The basic requirements are:
The chair should be capable of adjustment of the seat height, backrest and backrest tilt. The backrest should offer adequate lumbar support, which should be able to be adjusted to suit the individual user.
The seat height should be adjusted so that the user can sit with their shoulders in a relaxed position and their elbows at a 90-degree angle, with the forearms and upper arms at right angles while keying. Hands should just rest on the keyboard in a neutral position avoiding excessive flexion, extension or deviation of the wrists. The mouse should be positioned so that the user can operate it while keeping their elbow at a 90-degree angle. There should be space in front of the keyboard for the user to rest their hands in between keying. The screen should be positioned directly in front of the user and be at a height so that the user's line of vision is approximately five centimetres from the top of the screen.
The chair seat should have sufficient depth to accommodate the user without pressure on the backs of the thighs or knees. The angle of the seat should enable the user to sit with their hips raised slightly above their knees, so that their pelvis is rotated forward thereby helping the spine to maintain its natural 'S' shaped curve. The user's feet should be able to rest flat on the floor, or they should be provided with a footrest. There should be sufficient space on the work surface to accommodate any equipment or items the user may need to perform their job. There should be sufficient space under the desk or workstation for the user's legs to enable them to change position as required.
It is vital that computer users take regular breaks (ie four or five minutes every hour) from screen-based work, stretch and reposition in order to avoid excessive static loading of their muscles and tendons, which leads to fatigue and upper limb disorders. It is important to take breaks before fatigue sets in, otherwise there will be insufficient time to recover. Users should also take frequent mini breaks from viewing the screen by focusing on something different from the screen in order to avoid visual fatigue.
For more information see the Health and Safety Executive guidance Working with VDUs (PDF).
Eyesight tests for computer users
The School has a duty to provide an eyesight test, or cost towards an eye test, for employees who habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal working hours.
Users have the choice of using the School-nominated opticians or their own optician.
Procedures for using the School's nominated opticians are available on the Human Resources web pages - see Eyesight tests for VDU users.
Tips for avoiding strain injuries from using a Laptop
Long hours spent using a laptop (or similar) are a significant cause of aches, pains and injuries. These can be avoided by following a few simple steps.