INFO 1 Health and Safety

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Health Problems - Back Ache

 What are the Causes?

  • Sitting with an incorrect posture
  • Sitting awkwardly at a desk.

What are the Symptons?

  • Pain in the back and neck

How can it be Prevented?

  • Use an adjustable chair
  • Check adjustment of the chair
  • Use of foot support
  • Sit up straight on the chair with feet flat on the floor.
  • The screen should be lined up and tilted according to the user.
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Health Problems - Repetitive Strain injury (RSI)

What are the Causes?

  • Caused by long peroids of time using mouse/keyboard

What are the Symptons?

  • Ache and pain in hands, wrists, arms and neck.

How can they be Prevented?

  • Work area should not be cluttered

  • Use of document holder

  • Ergonomic keyboard/mouse

  • Use of wrist rest

  • Wrists should be kept straight when typing

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Health Problems - Eye Strain

What are the Causes?

  • Cause by use of using the screen for long periods of time

What are the Symptons?

  • Burning or itching eyes
  • Blurring, hazy or double vision
  • Headache
  • Nausea, Fatigue

How can it be Prevented?

  • Non glare light to prevent glare on the computer screen
  • Use monitors which don't flicker, use a screen filter 
  • Have blinds at the windows so that the sun doesn't shine directly on the screen
  • Keep your eyes at least 18 inches from the screen
  • Regularly look away from the screen and focus on something in the distance,take regularly breaks - at least 5 minutes break every hour
  • Have regular eye tests and wear glasses, drink plenty of fluids to keep the eyes hydrated
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Health Problems - Deep Vein Thrombosis

What are the Causes?

  • When your veins in your legs get compressed and start to clot
  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Long periods of inactivity

What are the Symptons?

  • Swelling in the affected leg
  • Localised heat in the affected leg
  • Pain in the affected leg

How can it be Prevented?

  • Take regular breaks
  • Stand up and move around to allow the blood flow in your legs to return to normal
  • Use an adjustable chair and ensure that your feet are firmly on the floor
  • Sit with a suitable posture – do not cross your legs for long periods
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Health Problems - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There is a bony channel called the ‘carpal tunnel’ on the palm side of your wrist.The tendons that allow your fingers to move and the median nerve which controls some of the muscles to move your thumb are protected by this circle of bones.

What are the Causes?

  • Develops when there is too much pressure on the median nerve. This may occur when people carry out activities with their hands they are not used to doing

What are the Symptons?

  • Numbness in the hands / fingers
  • Tingling and burning in the hands and/or fingers
  • Pain in the forearm, sometimes radiating as far as the shoulder and neck

How can it be Prevented?

  • Avoid typing or using the mouse for long periods of time
  • Avoid repetitive actions 
  • Take regular breaks from the computer
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Health Problems - Ulnar Neuritis

What are the Causes?

  • The Ulnar nerve crosses around the back of the inside of the elbow
  • Keeping your elbow on the desk whilst using the computer keyboard can lead to compression of the ulnar nerve

What are the Symptons?

  • Tingling in the fingers, Elbow /funny bone feels sensitive
  • Pain in the ring and small fingers at night or when repeating the activity which compresses the nerve

How can they be Prevented?

  • Use an adjustable seat and make sure that your arms are the correct height for the desk.
  • Avoid putting your elbows on the desk whilst you are using the computer
  • Use wrist rests to support your wrists whist typing.
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Health Problems - Fatigue

What are the Causes?

  • Working for long periods of time at the computer and concentrating intensely on one task.

What are the Symptons?

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Tiredness

How can it be Prevented?

  • Take regular breaks from the computer – approximately 5 minutes every hour, walk about, stand up etc.
  • Try to vary the work that you are doing in order to stimulate your brain.
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Health Problems - Stress 1

Stress brought on through the use of computers is one of the major causes of work related illness.

What are the Causes?

  • Some people don't understand computers and feel they will look stupid if they admit that they don't know how to operate one.
  • People worry that a computer will be able to replace them and they might lose their jobs.
  • Things change so fast in the world of computing that it can be very stressful especially for older people.
  • It is getting increasingly hard to separate work and home life means that people continue to work even after they have left the office.
  • The amount of information that ICT systems can produce is often far too much for anyone to take in.This results in 'information overload' and people end up feeling they can't cope and become stressed.
  • Workers can be monitored using ICT systems.Call centre staff are monitored to make sure that they don't spend too long on any one call.The number of products that a check-out person scans during a minute are counted.This feeling of being constantly 'watched' can be very stressful.
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Health Problems - Stress 2

What are the Symptons?

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Feeling sick
  • Depression

Prevention by the organisation:

  • Regular communication between staff and managers to sort out any issues.
  • Comprehensive training schemes so that staff know how to use the technology.
  • Checks to ensure that staff have a reasonable workload.

Prevention by individuals

  • Try to switch off when you leave work,try not to take work home
  • Tell your boss if you are feeling under pressure so you can discuss it.
  • Talk to other staff about problems you are experiencing.
  • Ask for help
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Health and Safety at Work Act 1

Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) states that employers have the duty to minimise risk to employees in the work place, by ensuring they have a safe place to work, and a safe system of work. Alongside the Health and Safety at Work Act, there is the Health and Safety (Display screen equipment) regulations 1992. These regulations cover the use of computer equipment. Under these regulations, there are specific measures which need to be taken, which include computer screens, appropriate training, chairs, desks and work stations and keyboards. 

Computer Screens 

  • Should be able to be tilt and swivel
  • Be of an appropriate height for user
  • Stable image (no flickering)
  • Brightness and contrast should be adjustable
  • Free from reflection/antiglare
  • Of appropriate size for use – e.g. CAD would require a bigger screen 
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Health and Safety at Work Act 2

Approprate Training 

  • Users should know how to make adjustments to the screen
  • Understand the regulations, e.g. taking a regular break
  • Understand the importance of keeping the screen clean


  • Should be adjustable, for the user to have appropriate view of the screen
  • Use of seat backs to provide support to the user to prevent health issues

Desks and Work Station 

  • Should be big enough for the computer equipment and other paperwork
  • Matt surface to reduce glare
  • Use of a document holder may be needed (if appropriate)


  • Ergonomic keyboard and mouse
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Designing a New Software

• When creating new software, the health and safety regulations need to be taken into consideration, for example they need to ensure the new software is:

  • Appropriate size and fonts of texts and images
  • Arranging data in order of importance
  • Use of shortcuts - minimising amount of typing and clicking
  • Screen layouts are clear so that eye strain is minimised.
  • Colour schemes should have good contrast to prevent eye strain.
  • Menu systems should be logical to prevent stress and annoyance.
  • Drop down lists to reduce data entry and prevent RSI.
  • Help facilities should be available to reduce stress.

• Once new software has been created, the software should be tested, and if any changes are needed, they should be made. Ideally the person testing the solution should be the person who is going to be using it, as they will be able to point out any issues much easier. 

• Another method of reducing issues with new software could include the use of help desks and appropriate training and logging any issues. This way, issues can be directed to the appropriate users, e.g. beginners may require more help than those who are more experienced.

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