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Computer health & safety

Computers can be found in more and more workplaces, they have now become part of day to day life and we learn to do tasks on them from a very early age. Training can sometimes stop short of explaining how to use computers in a way which is not damaging to one’s health and safety. People presume they know how to use a computer but incorrect technique and posture can lead to long term pain and suffering. With a little bit of training these problems can be avoided, it often falls on employers to ensure that the relevant training has been given.

An employer’s responsibilities

Most injuries caused as a result of computer use can be avoided if education and training are provided in correct use. Employers should equip their employees with the requisite information and training. Training can be administered in various ways. One good way is to provide a training pack which new employees can read and then sign to confirm that has been done. This is a cost effective way of educating employees and keeping a record of those who have undergone the training. Alternatively courses or seminars can be arranged where demonstrations can be given and questions answered. This form of training is more expensive but is often more effective at purveying important information which is retained by employees.

On top of training it is important for employers to ensure that their employees are working in comfortable, well lit conditions with suitable chairs to sit on and regular breaks. Sitting in the same position for hours on end is best avoided.

Common health problems

Symptoms can arise relatively soon after incorrect computer use. Symptoms of a more serious problem include, aching or stiff muscles, pins and needles or tingling, numbness or throbbing and general discomfort.

The types of injury commonly associated with computers are:

Musculoskeletal problems – these range from the most benign aches and pains to much more serious conditions which need to be treated. Repetitive strain injury is the most common of the more serious issues but others include tenosynovitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Neck and back pain as well as headaches can also be experienced, the level of pain and discomfort varying from nominal to acute. These problems are usually connected to incorrect posture or inadequate lower back support

Eye problems – staring at a back-lit screen all day can cause problems with vision, there is currently no proven connection between computer use and permanent eye damage but severe discomfort can occur. Common complaints include pain to the eyes resulting in a burning sensation, blurred vision, double vision, excessive watering, headaches and the need to change prescription lenses on a more regular basis than otherwise.

Action which employees may take

Employers owe a duty of care to their employees and if they are found to breach this duty by falling below the requisite standard of care then they may be liable to pay compensation for any injuries caused as a result. Computer use training is not compulsory but a lack of it could, in some situations, be found to be a breach of duty of care. For example if an employee works as a full time typist, working for 8 hours a day, it would be expected that some guidance is given in health and safety.

If you want to take legal action against an employer then the first step is seeking legal advice.

We will look at your individual case and advise you on the prospects of success and the next steps which need to be taken so get in touch today to find out more.

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