Even when the design of the workstations is correct and environmental factors are at their best, users can face risks from task organization which can intensify the impact of other risk factors, such as repetition. Additionally, failing to recognize early warning signs could allow small problems to develop into serious injuries. Addressing task organization factors and medical awareness can help minimize the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and stop the progression to injury.
Computer work, whether it's for a job or for fun, may appear to be a low effort activity when viewed from a total body perspective, but maintaining postures or performing highly repetitive tasks for extended periods can lead to problems in localized areas of the body. For example, using a mouse for a few minutes should not be a problem for most users, but performing this task for several uninterrupted hours can expose the small muscles and tendons of the hand to hundreds or even thousands of activations (repetitions). There may not be adequate time between activations for rest and recuperation, which can lead to localized fatigue, wear and tear, and injury. Likewise, maintaining static postures, such as viewing the monitor, for a prolonged period of time without taking a break can fatigue the muscles of the neck and shoulder that support the head.
Employees who have not been adequately trained to recognize hazards or understand effective work practices designed to reduce these hazards are at a greater risk of harm. Without proper medical awareness, Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) signs and symptoms may go unnoticed and un-addressed. For example, users who do not understand the risk of bad body postures or techniques do not have the knowledge to actively participate in their own protection. Detection and reporting delays can result in more severe injury.
Computer users should take the time to obtain general ergonomics awareness training on the following issues:
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