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Friday, July 31, 1998 Published at 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK


Questions to ask yourself

Occupational health experts and the Health and Safety Executive advise people who work with computers to adjust their monitors, keyboards, chairs and desks to cut the risk of RSI. The following questions give an indication of what computer-users should consider, although medical advice should be sought for serious problems.

1) Are you sitting comfortably?
Although it sounds simple, this is a basic rule to avoid injury at your workstation. It is important that your seat is at the right height, is not tilted badly, and is supporting your lumbar region.

2) Are your feet properly supported?
They should not be left dangling, so if you have adjusted your seat to fit your desk and it leaves your feet in the air, get a footrest to put underneath them. Avoid too much pressure on the backs of your legs and knees.

3) Is it clear beneath your desk?
If the space where your feet go is cluttered, for instance with rubbish bins, it can stop you putting your feet where they would most comfortably go.

4) Is your monitor at the right height?
Ideally the top of the screen should be at eye level, to avoid you having to bend your head up or down to see the screen comfortably. Similarly if the bulk of your work involves looking at the screen, it should be directly in front of you so you do not have to work at an angle.

5) Where is your mouse?
It should be as close as possible to your keyboard, you should not have to stretch or reach far to get it.

6) Are your wrists horizontal?
To reduce pressure on the tendons in the wrist, the wrists should be level, neither reaching up or down to the keyboard.

7) Are you near enough the screen?
You should be able to read it clearly without having to lean forward or squint. A rough guide is that it should be an arm's length away. The screen should also be clean and clearly focused.

8) Do you take frequent screen breaks?
You should make sure you have breaks from looking at the screen often, also you should change your posture. However you should avoid tasks that make you stretch repeatedly.

9) Can you touch-type?
People who cannot touch-type tend to rest their wrist on the desk in front of the keyboard, which can increase pressure on the wrist. If you do this, it might be a good idea to get a wrist-rest for extra support.

10) Where are you sitting?
It is not a good idea to sit facing windows or bright lights, or with light reflecting in your screen. You should pull the curtains or blinds to stop unwanted light.

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