Resources - Environment

Office Ergonomics - Health Concerns

Fatigue

If you work all day at a computer, get up and move frequently to reduce fatigue. A three- to five-minute break after each hour of intense computer work and a 10-15-minute break after two hours of moderate computer work should be sufficient.

Daily stretching exercises can help reduce muscle tension and eyestrain, but stretching doesn't take the place of a properly set up workstation or cure existing discomfort. The stretches below take about five minutes. Repeat each stretch three to five times. Do all of the exercises or just those that relieve tension in a particular area.

Vision

You should have regular eye exams. Be sure to tell the examining ophthalmologist or optometrist that you do computer work. Other useful information to have for the examination: the size of your monitor screen, the distance from your eyes to the screen, average hours per day you use a computer, and the tasks that you do on the computer. Book reading and computer viewing may require different prescriptions.

Noise

Annoying noise from computers and other workstation equipment – even at low levels – creates stress and lowers productivity. Sources of noise include keyboard typing, computer fans and CD drives, copy machines, and printers. Generally, sound levels in an office environment should be below 70 decibels (dBA) measured at the workstation.

Ways to control noise at computer workstations:

  • Install acoustic pads under keyboards.
  • Cover impact and ink-jet printers with acoustic covers or install acoustic pads under them.
  • Use partitions to help isolate or attenuate noise. Carpeting, drapery, and upholstery also help control noise.

Radiation

Radiation is distinguished by its frequency. High-frequency radiation (such as X-rays) is called ionizing radiation. It can disrupt the normal chemical structure and function of cells in the body. Studies show that ionizing radiation emissions from computers are negligible and not a health hazard.

Lower-frequency radiation is called non-ionizing radiation and includes ultraviolet radiation, visible light, infrared radiation, microwaves, radio frequency, and sub-radio frequency radiation. All electrical equipment can produce nonionizing radiation. Computer monitors have internal shielding that reduces non-ionizing radiation to safe levels. Computer users who sit at typical distances from their monitors receive extremely low exposures. Current research suggests there are few, if any, health effects caused by non-ionizing radiation among computer users.

Pregnancy

Although concerns about on-the-job hazards related to computer work during pregnancy have increased, there is insufficient evidence that exposure to computer electromagnetic fields (non-ionizing radiation) may cause birth defects and miscarriages.

A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Cancer Society found no increase in the risk of spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) associated with using computers in the workplace. The conventional scientific opinion is that computer use is not a radiation hazard for the pregnant worker. However, computer workstations and work tasks may have to be modified to accommodate pregnant workers. Poor work postures and job stress associated with prolonged or intense computer work should be of more concern for whose who do computer work.

Source: OR-OSHA

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Copyright ©2000-2016 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Students may reproduce materials for personal study. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).