Ergonomic Resource 2014 - page 22

22
ERGONOMIC RESOURCE
THE ERGONOMICS OF BEING MOBILE
ERGONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS FOR
LAPTOP USERS AND EMPLOYERS
Portable computers landed in our laps
during the early 1980s. Called the laptop,
they were promoted as a new executive
tool with the weight and size to make
them portable. Little consideration was
given to the postural demands on the
user of a keyboard that was hinged to
the screen. “Small was good” even if that
brought new challenges for adult fingers.
When laptops first came onto the market
they were for executives on the move
and expected to be used for short
periods of time. Laptops are designed
first and foremost to be portable, not for
the ergonomics of use for long periods.
Now of course laptops are integral in
the busy lives we lead. They are used
in dedicated home offices, the kitchen,
the car, the train and when we travel.
With the convenience of laptops there is
also a health cost from prolonged use in
the form of neck, low back and arm pain.
A study in the UK found that users of
laptops for an hour or more had a high
reporting of forearm pain while almost
75% of those that used a laptop for 4
hours or more a day reported back pain.
SO WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT
MESSAGES FOR LAPTOP USERS?
We need to use laptops ergonomically.
The good news is that the solutions
are simple. Where possible, a docking
station or port replicator bar and
peripheral keyboard and mouse are
recommended. The laptop user has
only to raise and tilt the screen and
attach a peripheral keyboard and
mouse to give themselves the flexibility
to be comfortable while working.
The screen should be raised to
avoid neck bending and therefore
the keyboard cannot be used easily.
Using an infrared or other peripheral
keyboard and mouse allows the user
to place the screen slightly further
away which is more comfortable
for the eyes. The eye to screen
distance should be around 600mm.
Using a plug in mouse gives the user
the opportunity to work with the
shoulders relaxed and elbows by the
body, where fatigue is much less. The
screens of laptops are usually smaller
than desktop computers. Given a
choice it is preferable to buy as large
a laptop screen as possible. This has
the advantage of providing larger
keys also, however the disadvantage
is the greater weight involved.
POOR
GOOD
‘SIT TALL’
ADJUSTABLE
HEIGHT
SETTINGS
Compliance
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Wellbeing Initiatives
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Interactive Remedies
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Data Driven Ergonomics
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