Chat with us, powered by LiveChat
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

Musculoskeletal damage 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

Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common type reported at work, with the number of cases per year being just under the half a million mark. Given that there are about 30 million people working in the UK, that’s 1.6%. So, if you’re an employer with, say 25 people, statistically speaking, you’re going to have someone report a back injury within the next 18 months.

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

DSE Assessment

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

  • An Introduction To Everything You Need To Know About Sustainability Image
    Toby Howell BA PGDip

    An Introduction To Everything You Need To Know About Sustainability

    We hear about sustainability all the time, let's take a step back and remind ourselves why it is so important. 
    25.05.22
  • What is Net Zero and How Do We Get There? Image
    Steve Terry

    What is Net Zero and How Do We Get There?

    Uncover the importance of Net Zero and discover how each us can achieve their own version of Net Zero. Find out this and more in the latest blog by Astutis Managing Director, Steve Terry.
    17.05.22
  • Discussing a strategic approach to the climate crisis: An introduction to the revolutionary IEMA Pathways to Net Zero Image
    Steve Terry

    Discussing a strategic approach to the climate crisis: An introduction to the revolutionary IEMA Pathways to Net Zero

    Discover how a decarbonisation plan could radically improve the environmental impact of your business with the IEMA Pathways to Net Zero course. 
    09.05.22
  • The Astutis Guide to Environmental Management Jobs  Image
    Toby Howell BA PGDip

    The Astutis Guide to Environmental Management Jobs

    Curious about the career prosects in the environmental management sector? This blog will identify three amazing jobs that could be ideal for you!
    25.04.22
  • Earth Day: The Most Important Day of 2022 Image
    Cole Vyas

    Earth Day: The Most Important Day of 2022

    Discover the history and importance of Earth Day 2022!
    20.04.22
  • What is the IEMA Certificate for Environmental Management? Image
    Toby Howell BA PGDip

    What is the IEMA Certificate for Environmental Management?

    Uncover everything you need to know regarding the IEMA Certificate in Environmental Management. Explore course topics, benefits of studying the course and course difficulty level in Astutis' blog here.
    11.04.22
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
  • "The course was informative and well presented with plenty of interactive opportunity rather than just a power point presentaation with the tutor reading the pages to you like some training providers."

    Alan
    26.05.2022
  • "Thoroughly enjoyed the day."

    Alan
    26.05.2022
  • "Service within the speed of sound. Very helpful and recommend what is necessary. Knowledge is key. Treating you with the greatest respect and make you feel part of the family. I will recommend anyone, anytime"

    Pearl Fiona
    18.05.2022
  • "Very informative and tons of information available. Assisting when needed and value for the price. Loved the videos as you can relate it to your own workplace. What you learn, you can make the difference in your own workplace"

    Pearl Fiona
    18.05.2022
  • "Excellent service, very helpful weather it be via email or on the website chats, quick response!"

    18.05.2022
  • "The contents in the course is very detailed and knowledgeable, links to videos for more understanding per section is of great value especially for distance learning."

    18.05.2022
  • "Yes, definitely, and I will propose to other friends or colleagues who ever want or have this similar training service!"

    xie
    12.05.2022
  • "Nice and wonderful, best practice and choice"

    xie
    12.05.2022
  • "Service is very professional, quick response to queries at any time... Always here to help.. I see a good coordination between the team. Thanks. Keep it up"

    Jean Francois Stephan
    12.05.2022
  • "Course is well désigned and vert user friendly."

    Jean Francois Stephan
    12.05.2022