User:Rewood/Headaches in the Workplace

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In researching some of the possible causes of reported workplace headaches, there seem to be several reported causes of headaches related to computer monitor use.

Although patient medical background information from an attending physician is an important factor to include in research, the data appears to focus on several factors:

  • lighting
  • posture
  • distance of position from monitor.

"Video display operators sometimes report

  • eye fatigue and irritation
  • blurred vision
  • headaches
  • dizziness< and pain
  • stiffness in the:
    • neck shoulders
    • back
    • arms
    • wrists
    • hands

These problems usually can be corrected by adjusting the physical and environmental setting where the VDT [Video Display Terminal] users work.

  • The relation of the operator to the keyboard and the screen
  • The operator's posture
  • The lighting
  • The background noise

should be carefully examined to prevent discomfort.

  • Problem:Glare on your computer screen…[which] slows you down when reading anything obstructed by the glare
  • Possible solution: Glare reduction panel placed over monitor screen.
  • Problem: Eye muscles can tire, like any other. They tire as they work to adjust to the lighting changes throughout a room.
  • Possible solution: Adjustment of the lighting in work area. Use of "lighting that minimizes glare and shadowing
  • task lighting that evenly illuminates the work surface for more detailed tasks Also avoid "indirect glare," light from outside that bounces off your monitor into your eyes. It happens when you have your back to a window. "The best position for a computer monitor is perpendicular to the window. Additionally, normal office lighting can be supplemented by individual "task lighting" at a work station if necessary.
  • Task lighting that is specific to worker would allow them to adjust the lighting level as necessary for her on a daily basis. Office lighting can often bounce off of other shiny hardware in an office setting such as a keyboard without a matte finish, cabinets and even the paint on the walls, which can be glossy (or reflective) enough to bounce light around a work area.
  • Problem: Headaches caused by neck strain and eyestrain of improper posture and positioning between worker and workstation.
  • Possible Solution: Adjust the "screen distance: You should sit about 20 inches from the computer monitor, a little farther away than reading distance, with the top of the screen at or below eye level.
  • Further, an individual workstation should provide the operator with a comfortable sitting position sufficiently flexible to reach, use, and observe the screen, keyboard, and document. If your monitor is too far away, you will have to strain to read the print.
  • Likewise, if it is too close, you may also strain your eyes. If the monitor is too high, you will have to angle your neck to look up at it, which could cause your neck to be sore, and may contribute to headaches. Also, when you are continually looking up, you may not fully close your eyes when you blink, and this can cause your eyes to dry out.

The following suggestions work within OSHA's guidelines for safety with video display terminals Posture support:

  • The seat and backrest of the chair should support a comfortable posture permitting occasional variations in the sitting position.
  • Chair height and backrest angle should be easily adjustable. A foot rest may be necessary for short individuals.
  • Arms: When the operator's hands are resting on the keyboard, the upper arm and forearm should form a right angle. The hands should be in a reasonably straight line with the forearm. Long or unusually high reaches should be avoided. Armrests should permit periodic support as needed.
  • Legs and feet: The chair height is correct when the entire sole of the foot can rest on the floor or footrest and the back of the knee is slightly higher than the seat of the chair. This allows the blood to circulate freely in the legs and feet.
  • Adjustment of screen position: Screens [that] swivel horizontally and tilt or elevate vertically enable the operator to select the optimum viewing angle.
  • [Workstation] surface: The table or [workstation] should suit the kind of task to be done. It should be large enough for any reference books, files, telephone, or text and also permit different positions of the screen and keyboard. Adjustable surface height is an advantage.
  • Eye and screen: The topmost line of the display should not be higher than the user's eyes.
  • The screen and document holder should be the same distance from the eye (to avoid constant changes of focus) and close together so the operator can look from one to the other without excessive movement of the neck or back.
  • The incline of the document holder should be adjustable.
  • Legibility is a prime consideration in selecting a display screen. This also applies to document selection.
  • Legibility factors to be considered include:
    • symbol size and design
    • contrast
    • sharpness.
  • Adjustment of the keyboard: A movable keyboard is a plus. It can be arranged to suit the type of work and the need to consult documents or notes.