According to a report by Asiaweek, on-the-job injuries are no longer
confined strictly to blue-collar workers. The modern-day office has become a
danger zone and computers are largely to be blamed. Their increased use
points to an increase in sick leave and doctors' visits. The new group of
patients includes writers, secretaries and data-entry clerks. Anyone who
spends hours at a keyboard can be at risk.
The most frequent complaints
are wrist, hand and neck pain. These are typical signs of repetitive strain
injuries. Another related condition is called carpal tunnel syndrome caused
by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. It results from repeated
movements such as typing or using the mouse over a long period of time.
Before computers came along, typists would stop to make corrections or
change paper. These movements provided some relief. Now, typists rarely move
from their computer, hitting as much as 21,600 words an hour. In severe
cases, the pain shoots up a victim's arm. Some also develop neck and
shoulder problems from holding their head in uncomfortable positions.
Computer users may also complain of eye strain, headaches, double vision
and other eye problems caused by improper use of display screens. It may be
a result of staring at the screen for too long. It could also be due to
improper lighting and screen glare.
The best way to cope with such problems is to adopt healthier work
habits. This means that the workers have to hold their wrists flat when they
use the keyboard. They should also tap on the keys softly and take frequent
breaks. Their feet should also be flat on the floor and their heads and
backs straight. Some may be required to change their typing technique. In
severe cases, taking a rest and some anti-inflammatory medication may be
There are also ergonomic hardware and software that blends well with a
person's body or actions. Some examples of such ergonomic hardware are
tilting display screens, detachable keyboards and specially designed
keyboards that are suitable for the wrists.
Employers and managers should help employees create a comfortable working
environment to reduce the side effects of working on the computer.