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Health concerns that can come from ICT use

Several conditions are caused by ICT use:

  • RSI - Repetitive Strain Injury
  • Radiation from Visual Display Units
  • Eye strain
  • Stress

These can be improved by:

  • having an ergonomically designed workplace
  • following health and safety guidelines
  • using carefully designed software
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Repetitive Strain Injury

A disorder that affects the neck, shoulders and upper limbs. It is caused by repetitive small movements. For example, typing or moving the mouse.

Small repetitive movements can result in numbness, tingling, aching or stiffness.

To help prevent or reduce RSI, the use should take short, frequent breaks away from the computer and/or use ergonomic equipment such as an ergonomic keyboard to protect the limbs.

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Eye strain can be caused by glare from the screen; improper lighting; poor work practices such as insufficient rest; poorly designed equipment; and improperly corrected vision.

To prevent this; your employer should pay for your eye tests and glasses and have blinds around the office to prevent glare from the screen. Regular breaks should also be enforced.

The computer screen should also be at an appropriate height, the top of the monitor in line with their eye level.

The user should also sit an appropriate distance away from the computer.

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Sources of Stress

Stress can be caused by:

Demands - such as workload, work patterns and the work environment

Control - such as how much say/control the person has in the way they do their work

Support - such as the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues

Relationships - such as promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour

Role - such as whether people understand their role with the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles

Change - such as how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.

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Sources of Stress in the ICT workplace

ICT can induce stress:

Slow machinery: i.e. having to wait for things to log in/out and data to be processed

Inappropriate/faulty systems

Lack of skills (or confidence)

Work rate - performance can be monitored by software that counts key clicks

Monitoring - e.g. emails, web pages, audit logs- invasion of privacy, constantly under watch

Working from home - feeling like you're always at work

Speed of development - the pace at which things change in the ICT industry

Information overload 

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Health and Safety Regulations

The Health and Safety Regulations 1992 protect the health of employees.

Employers must:

  • Analyse workstations for safety
  • Provide training on the use of workstation components
  • Ensure that employees have regular breaks or changes in activity
  • Provide regular eye tests for workstation users and pay for the glasses where necessary.
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