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Work with a Computer

Work with a Computer

Work with monitors / on the computer is an inseparable factor and irreplaceable working means of many people and profession. Data entry, documentation management, creating graphical images or planning is only a tiny list of many tasks, which cannot really be done without the help of a computer. Also, several industrial machines are automatized to a greater or lesser extent, as a result of which, the employer (who previously had very much physical labour) simply checks the work of the machine from a screen.

The main health problems related to work with a computer are connected with the body’s support and movement apparatus. Incorrect and tiresome working position causes elbow, wrist, shoulder, neck and lower back pains. Problems with eyes are mostly caused by individual’s eye specifics, work tasks (e.g. the size of inspected objects) and certain workplace conditions like air humidity and lighting conditions. Fatigue and stress is the joint result of the complexity, extent and time spent on solving the work tasks. Several other health problems like headache and skin irritation are rarer.


During the work environment risk assessment, the employer is obliged to evaluate the employees’ workplaces, considering also the factors influencing the employee’s eyesight, physical or mental overload caused by working, work environment hazards (incl. light, noise, electromagnetic radiation, internal climate), and the ergonomical setup of the workplace and its’ suitability for the employee.

Each employee must be properly instructed and trained prior to starting work on a monitor, and following considerable changes at the workplace. The employer must organize work in such a manner that the employee could prevent discomforts caused by working in a forced position by alternating work with a computer with other kinds of work tasks. If this is not possible, the employee must get periodic breaks. Resting breaks must total at least 10% of the time worked at the monitor. The employer must organize health checks to employees who spend at least half of their worktime at a computer. In addition to the aforementioned, health checks must be available at the employee’s request, when working with a computer has caused an eyesight malfunction or stress in the skeleton and musculature.

Setting up a Workplace

Workplace with a computer must be designed and set up ergonomically. It is recommended to follow the European Standard EN 29241 and regulation “Occupational health care and safety requirements on working with a computer” when designing and setting up the workplace.

The employee must be able to work in a comfortable and suitable position. When working with a monitor, the desk space must be big enough to enable the suitable positioning of the monitor, keyboard and other external devices. Keyboard must be alonestanding, tilted and with a matt surface, placed on the desk so that the employee would not get discomfort in their hands or arms. To guarantee readability, the contrast and size of font must be regulated, the screen image must be constant and flicker-free; the height and tilt of the monitor must be adjustable. Software must be easy to use and, if possible, adjusted to the level of the user’s knowledge and skills.

When choosing a chair for working with a computer, the primary choice criteria is its’ suitability to the employee who shall use it. The measures of the employee’s body parts determine the adjusting ranges of the different chair parts. If the chair is non-adjustable, it can cause inconveniency, dissatisfaction and muscle fatigue. When the latter is not recuperated from, pains and illnesses shall arise.

The placement of the chair and desk must guarantee the ergonomically correct body position to the employee. The chair height, the back support position and tilting angle must be adjustable. Easy handling of the adjusting mechanisms from the seating position enables to change the position of the chair parts more easily and faster. Before buying a new chair, the desk height and adjustment possibilities must be determined. The desk height determines the required chair height adjustment range. As a rule, the suitable seat height is such that when the employee is sitting, the keyboard is at the same level with the elbow (or lower). If the desk is at the suitable height, then in most cases, the most suitable height of the seat enables the employee to sit with their soles fully on the floor, knees at the right angle. When the chair is adjusted higher than the employee’s hollow of the knee, a foot support is necessary.

The minimal load on the spine is achieved by a 100-110 degree angle between the back support and the chair. The chair seat material must be air-penetrating and friction resistant, enabling to sit in the correct position when the chair is slightly tilted forwards. This way, minimum muscle strength is needed for preserving or changing the correct sitting position, and blood flow in the back sartorial muscles is the least obstructed.

The back support of the chair must support the lower back. In a supported sitting position, there is room for at least two fingers between the hollow of the knee and the seat edge. When the seat edge touches the hollow of the knee in the position that supports the lower back, the chair must be adjusted or a more suitable one chosen.

When resting arms or elbows on the armrests, the shoulders may not be risen. If other adjustments have been made, the chair armrests may prohibit moving the chair close to the desk. Shoulders, head and body tilted forward characterize a person sitting too far away from the desk. When it is possible to rest the wrists and forearms somewhere else and the armrests hinder the chair’s movements, the armrests might be removed.


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