This page deals with computer health and safety issues of online learning. In particular it demonstrates the need for a well designed computer workstation (with an ergonomic chair and ergonomic computer desk) and the need for a healthy work schedule.
There are several well-known health issues associated with working at a computer and hence with studying online. In particular, it is known that working at a computer can result in the following health issues:
- Eye strain: Working at a screen causes you to stare more intently at a small area than you would under other circumstances.
- Upper limb disorders: These are sometimes referred to as RSI (repetitive strain injury).
- Headaches: Some people report headaches after working at a screen for a long period.
(Taken from the Open University UK online course “Living with the internet: learning online” that deals with health issues.)
And to make your online learning really healthy, here are more tips to alleviate many of the health issues.
Take frequent breaks
Two to three short rest breaks per hour will allow your musculoskeletal system to recover from periods of the repetitive work.
Chair and desk are the right height
Lower back pain often results from sitting in a fixed or bad posture for long periods of time. Health issues of this sort can be caused by having a seat that forces you to work with your feet unsupported or encourages you to move forward in the chair. Make sure your chair and desk are the right height – your lower arms should be roughly horizontal and your feet flat on the floor. A well-designed ergonomic chair allows you to move freely and change posture throughout the day. It should have the necessary adjustments to fit your body’s dimensions and hence minimize these health issues.
Monitor arranged appropriately
A few simple tips can help you to avoid the health issues often caused by monitors. Arrange your monitor to avoid bright reflections on the screen and also so that you are not staring into a sunlit window. In general, try to keep the brightness and contrast as low as possible to suit you and the lighting conditions. The computer monitor should be separate from the CPU and mounted on an adjustable monitor support. It should be situated so that the top line of text on the monitor is positioned just below eye level.
Use the keyboard and mouse correctly
One of the common, but avoidable, health issues of working at a keyboard for extended periods of time is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). To avoid it the keyboard should be positioned just above thigh level and angled away from you. This straightens your wrists. Consider using an ergonomic keynboard.
The mouse should be positioned as close to the keyboard as possible. Do not grip the mouse too tightly, and rest your fingers lightly on the buttons. Again, an ergonomic mouse can help.
Computer health and safety issues: Lighting
Poor lighting can cause health issues ranging from headaches to neck and back pain. If you are typing from a document, you need better lighting on it than you do for the monitor. Rather than have bright room lights, use a positionable light on the desktop so that you put the light where you need it most.
Though much of the advice above applies to laptop use, the positioning of the keyboard relative to the screen is more of a problem. The following video gives some advice.
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