AS Level ICT INFO1 - Health and Safety

Summarising the most important points from the Health and Safety section of the AS ICT INFO1 section.

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5. Health and Safety - Health and Safety at Work A

The Health and Safety at Work Act protects workers from a harmful working environment in terms of accidents or damaging their health. Employers are responsible for the well-being of their employees, and therefore must assess risks and do their best to keep these risks to a minimum.

The employer must:

  • Identify hazards the user is exposed to.
  • Identify the risks those hazards may produce.
  • Put safety precautions in place to reduce risks.
  • Train workers to deal with any risks that remain.
  • Check regularly on the situation.
  • Encourage staff to report any health and safety issues.
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5. Health and Safety - Potential Equipment Risks

  • Back and spinal damage - People working on computers often spend most of their day sitting in the same position. If their posture is incorrect, then they could put themselves at risk of back pain or permanent spinal damage. Solution: Chairs should provide good back support and be adjustable in height, a footrest should be used if necessary, and document holders may be used.
  • Repetitive strain injury (RSI) - People who use computers often perform the same movements over and over when using common input devices like the keyboard and mouse, and this can cause pain to joints, sometimes permanently. Solution: Keyboard should be adjustable in height, ergonomically designed keyboards may help, and a wrist-rest is sometimes also useful. The mouse should be placed so it is easy to reach and can be used with the wrist straight. The use of touch screens also reduces the use of the keyboard and mouse.
  • Eye strain and headaches - Focussing on a screen for long periods of time can lead to tired eye and headaches. This can be made worse if the user is under stress. Solution: Specific software design can reduce eye strain, but it is best to take regular breaks.
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5. Health and Safety - An Ergonomic Workstation

A correct workstation:

  • Monitor 20-24 inches away from the eyes.
  • Wrists in neutral position (not bent upward or downward).
  • Monitor height adjusted so top of screen is 5-15° below horizontal line of sight.
  • A document holder placed next to the screen, instead of laying papers flat.
  • A footrest, if necessary, to adjust to keep the feet flat.
  • Backrest supporting small of the back.
  • Seat at a height where upper arms hang vertically, with the elbows bent at 90°.
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5. Health and Safety - An Ergonomic Workstation

An incorrect workstation:

  • Neck being twisted in order to look at the monitor.
  • Using mouse too far away, causing strain on the shoulder.
  • Wrist bent at an angle.
  • Monitor positioned too low.
  • Feet not firmly on the floor.
  • Back not supported by the backrest.
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5. Health and Safety - Potential Software Risks

The way software is designed is also extremely important.

  • Background and font colours - These should not cause strain to the user's eyes, and have a good contrast to make text stand out clearly. This is especially important if a user has a visual impairment.
  • Font size - This should be considered carefully in software design. The font should be large enough to read clearly, but not too large.
  • Menu layout - If menus are badly laid out, the user will have to navigate the software more in order to find the feature required. A logical menu layout reduces the stress induced in the user.
  • Screen icons - These and other interactive controls should also be laid out in logical groups, to avoid unnecessary mouse movement, and stress.
  • Keyboard shortcuts - These allow common features to be accessed easily, without unnecessary mouse movement. This also allows movements to alter between keyboard and mouse, to spread the load on the joints.
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