Occupational health and safety
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When using your laptop, you need to minimise the potential safety and health hazards associated with using the machine.
Here are some of the potential injuries that can occur.
- Occupational overuse syndrome (also known as repetitive strain injury) is a result of sustained unnatural postures and/or prolonged tension on muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues.
- Eye strain can occur after straining to view details on small screens in environments where there is poor lighting, glare or reflection.
- Manual handling strain may happens when carrying laptops for extended periods and/or lifting them out of awkward spaces.
- Strain may aggravate an existing injury.
The Occupational Health and Safety contact office for the department is:
Risk and Continuity Services Internal Audit
Phone: (07) 3235 4447
It is important to adopt a good posture when working on a laptop. There are several practices that can be adopted to help to ensure good posture is maintained. They are:
- using an external monitor, mouse and/or keyboard wherever possible
- attaching the laptop to a docking station. This allows the monitor to be adjusted to the correct height for the operator
- setting the keyboard at the correct height rather than the screen. This can be achieved by placing the laptop computer on a desk at a height where the elbows are at 90 degrees and the wrists kept straight
- adopting the best possible posture
- sitting in a comfortable chair at a desk when ever possible
- taking frequent rest breaks (at least every 20 minutes but more often if the setup is not optimal) to allow eyes and muscles to recuperate
- limiting the use of the laptop to a maximum of 2 hours in any session
- considering using a trolley or backpack to carry the laptop.
Image courtesy of EQ Organisational Health Unit
Eye strain and headaches can be caused by the constant viewing of small objects on a small screen, incorrect monitor position, and glare or reflections from lighting sources.
The risk of eye strain can be reduced by ensuring that you:
- work in environments free from glare or reflection
- have adequate lighting
- increase font size for comfortable viewing
- use a standard computer monitor at a docking station where possible
- position the monitor at a comfortable viewing distance
- take frequent rest breaks. An old but valid idea is the 20/20 rule which states 'every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away (approx 6 metres) for 20 seconds'
- regularly blink to lubricate your eyes
- appropriately adjust the monitor colours and/or contrasts and alter the touchpad or mouse settings.
To find out more, download the department's information sheet on occupational health and safety, and correct laptop use.