Courses Available Online, Virtually and Classroom
Fully Certified NEBOSH, IOSH, IEMA Accredited
7-Day Customer Service
Lorna Bleyswyck CMIOSH, PGCE

Is your PC Causing you Musculoskeletal Disorders?

Laptops, computers, tablets, phones – we all use them at work, at home and on the move. But they can leave a significant effect on the quality of our life.

May 2016

Laptops, Computers, tablets, phones – we all use them at work, at home and on the move. They have become almost like another vital organ we can’t live without. But, not managing our health when using this DSE (Display Screen Equipment) can leave us with muscular aches and pain in all areas of our body, having a significant effect on the quality of our life.
 

Needless to say, it's essential for us to reduce the risk of these potential health problems. In this post, I’ll review the main health issues associated with DSE use, and what you and your employer can do to minimise the risks in the workplace and at home.

Wrist, Elbow and Neck Ache

Have you ever suffered from painful conditions like tennis elbow, or carpal tunnel syndrome? These conditions can be caused or aggravated by improper DSE use.

They're typically caused from having your arm or wrist in an awkward position while using a laptop (or computer, or any other piece of equipment that requires typing). But, they can also be caused simply due to the high repetition of hand and finger movements when typing or using the mouse (some speed typing websites have unofficial records of over 174 words per minute!).

Tension in the neck and aching shoulders can be caused in a similar way, too.

Key action points

  1. At work, ensure that a DSE assessment is carried out on your workstation to identify how arm and hand position can be improved. Your employer is legally required to do this if you use DSE as a substantial part of your work.
  2. Make sure you have frequent short breaks when typing continuously.
  3. Do a few simple arm, shoulder and neck exercises regularly throughout the day.
  4. Consider how much you use your computer or laptop at work AND at home in a day. If it can’t be avoided or limited at work, try to limit your use at home.

Back Ache

People concentrate so much on the task at hand, that they don't give much thought to how they are sitting when using DSE. But, sitting in a incorrect position can put a lot of strain on the spine, typically resulting in low back ache.

The natural curve of the lumbar spine is flattened when you sit down, and we often twist and bend the spine to reach items on the floor or perhaps at the back of the desk.

Key action points

  1. At work, the DSE assessment mentioned above will also identify whether your seated position can be improved. Most DSE users can find the correct position using a standard office chair with adjustable features. Occasionally, a special chair may be needed.
  2. Get to know your chair, its features, and how to make adjustments. Sometimes people find out after years of using a chair that the lumbar support is adjustable, or that the armrests can be altered.
  3. Make sure that you always sit with your spine against the contours of the chair back, and adjust the seat height, back tilt etc. every time you sit in a different chair.
  4. Try to find reasons to stand up every now and again to aid circulation and help prevent stiffness and discomfort.

Sore Eyes and Headaches

We blink much less than normal when concentrating on a screen, and this can cause our eyes to become dry and sore. This can especially be a problem for people who wear contact lenses.

Any glare or reflection on your screen can also cause your eye muscles to work harder to see, making them fatigue more quickly. Any temporary strain on your eyes can result in a headache.

Key action points

  1. At work, the DSE assessment already mentioned may identify how simple changes to the screen position may remove any glare or reflections.
  2. Be more aware of how often you are blinking when concentrating on your screen, and try to blink more frequently.
  3. Try to include breaks away from your screen into your work; even looking across the room or out of a window can relax the eye muscles.
  4. Consider using artificial tears if you are a contact wearer, or perhaps wear glasses for work.
  5. If these simple measures do not relieve your symptoms when using DSE at work, request an eye and eyesight test from your employer. They are legally bound to provide one for employees who use DSE for a substantial part of their work, and to provide basic frames and lenses if the test shows you require them for your DSE work.

Employer’s Responsibility

In the workplace, an employer has a duty to ensure that any workstation has had a DSE assessment. This should highlight any areas of concern and how to resolve them. Employers should also have information available which will inform you of all their assessment procedures, such as eye tests. 

The amount of times we spend on computers, laptops, tablets and phones is increasing every day. Whether at work or at home, we all have a responsibility to look after our own health when using this equipment. Use this blog as a guide to help minimise the risks of getting any injuries or ill-health, and make sure you and your family stay safe and healthy.

Want some more Help on DSE or Manual Handling?

Our DSE and Wellbeing Toolkit is the quick and easy to complete a DSE workstation assessment. Developed alongside a leading Ergonomics Consultant, our toolkit includes step-by-step interactive guidance to help you understand the risks associated with poor DSE use and how to set up your workstation correctly. Click the button below to find out more!

Related Blogs

  • Why the UK Might Fail Their 2030 Net-Zero Targets Image
    Enock Ebbah

    Why the UK Might Fail Their 2030 Net-Zero Targets

    Read more to understand how the government might miss their 2030 targets and why concerning trends could have an impact on its long-term Net Zero goals.
    23.02.24
  • How to Communicate in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS): A Practical Guide Image
    William Gaunt

    How to Communicate in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS): A Practical Guide

    Occupational health and safety is the bedrock of every successful organisation. We boil down its essential elements and list three things you absolutely have to know. Additionally, find out why it matters and how OHS professionals are trained.
    21.02.24
  • Research Suggests 3 Reasons UK Failed Car Charging Station Goals Image
    Enock Ebbah

    Research Suggests 3 Reasons UK Failed Car Charging Station Goals

    The UK Government has failed to meet its goals for installing electric vehicle charging stations nationwide in 2023. We list some key reasons why and explain the frustrating impact this will have on their Net-Zero mission.
    16.02.24
  • What is Occupational Health & Safety? 3 Things You Need to Know Image
    William Gaunt

    What is Occupational Health & Safety? 3 Things You Need to Know

    Occupational health and safety is the bedrock of every successful organisation. We boil down its essential elements and list three things you absolutely have to know. Additionally, find out why it matters and how OHS professionals are trained.
    14.02.24
  • Who is Responsible for Health and Safety in the Workplace? Image
    William Gaunt

    Who is Responsible for Health and Safety in the Workplace?

    We look at who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace and what employees and employers should prioritise when creating their health and safety plan for their organisation. Click to find out more.
    09.02.24
  • Climate Crisis as Net-Zero Targets Missed In 2023 (Expert Opinion) Image
    Enock Ebbah

    Climate Crisis as Net-Zero Targets Missed In 2023 (Expert Opinion)

    Our Net-Zero expert, Enock Ebbah, delves into the seismic challenge in front of our planet to decrease the rate of global warming after the UK fails to meet its projections for 2023 - revealing the potentially devastating implications.
    07.02.24
Section Curve
Case Studies

Real Life Stories

Find out how learners look back on their training with Astutis. Our case studies give our learners, both individual and corporate, a platform to share their Astutis experience. Discover how training with Astutis has helped past learners and delegates make the world a safer place, one course at a time.
More Image
Bottom Curve
What People Say

Hear What Our Learners Have To Say

We're always there for our customers. 98% of our learners rated their overall experience as good or outstanding. We will always pride ourselves on our customer service. But don’t take our word for it, here is what our customers have to say
  • "I enjoyed the course that i took with Astutis, IEMA Environmental Sustainability Skills for Managers. It really well put together, and ultimately I passed the test and gained the certificate, so the information imparted covered the syllabus well. Was a bit surprised to see that the test was Open Book after I'd clicked to 'start' - I'd been revising for a few weeks, if this had been communicated better it might have saved me a bit of anguish!"

    Laura
    22.02.2024
  • "I enjoyed the course that i took with Astutis, IEMA Environmental Sustainability Skills for Managers. It really well put together, and ultimately I passed the test and gained the certificate, so the information imparted covered the syllabus well. Was a bit surprised to see that the test was Open Book after I'd clicked to 'start' - I'd been revising for a few weeks, if this had been communicated better it might have saved me a bit of anguish!"

    Laura
    22.02.2024
  • "I felt a divine prompting to seek my Boss's recommendation when considering another learning partner, and she graciously suggested Astutis. Choosing Astutis turned out to be a decision without regrets. Even when I didn't pass the RA on my first attempt, the Director's response to my inquiries boosted my confidence to request a remark, which was facilitated at no extra cost thanks to the Director's advocacy. Astutis provided unwavering support throughout my journey, from inception to completion. I eagerly anticipate enrolling in additional courses and pursuing a diploma with them."

    Femi
    20.02.2024
  • "Nebosh need to be consistent with the marking, I felt the marking can be somehow subjective. Different marker graded same script differently. I failed the first time because someone(marker) didn't understand the guideline and the second marker did mentioned something different. Good study material and content."

    Femi
    20.02.2024
  • "Provided all necessary supporting documentation alongside the virtual training."

    Jodie
    20.02.2024
  • "I found the NG1 course particularly useful in understanding what was required for the exam."

    Jodie
    20.02.2024
  • "Good communication, helpful and friendly"

    06.02.2024
  • "Interesting and relevant."

    06.02.2024
  • "ASTUTIS has good customer care. They trustworthy and coordinative .They work as a team. A special thanks goes to madam Hilary for the great work rendered."

    Rogers
    06.02.2024
  • "I thought the course was so easy but I found it even tougher than IGC but interesting when you get used to it."

    Rogers
    06.02.2024