Unit 7:Computer Laboratory and its Health Hazards

Introduction Even though we are all excited to have one ICT tool or the other for our personal use, we should keep in mind that we can cause ourselves some sort of harm if we do not learn how to handle these tools properly. This session teaches some of the harms that we may cause to ourselves. It also teaches how to prevent these harms from coming to us.

Some Common Threats to users

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

This is a disorder of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments and joints. This injury is said to be the most dominant when compared to the other forms of injuries. Common symptoms are aching, pains in arms/wrists even after rest, weakness, swelling, tenderness, numbness, pins and needles or burning sensation, stiffness in the arms, hands, shoulders and neck.

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

Eyes can become strained after staring at a computer screen for a long time, particularly if working in a bad lighting system, in glare or with a flickering screen. You may have a sore, tired, burning sensation, itching, dry or watery eyes, blurred or double vision after using an ICT tool for a prolonged period.

Back problems

Mild or severe pains at the back of the body especially from the spine to the waist.

Hearing Impairment

It occurs when you are not able to hear sound properly or sometimes not at all. Sometimes too, you may be hearing some weird sound regularly in the ears.

Cancer

There are claims that exposure to certain radiation/ultra-violet rays could cause cancer. There is however strong opposition to this assertion since there is no scientific proof.

Accidents

Accidents associated with ICT tools include electrical shocks, cuts on parts of the body, burns and deaths because of electrical fluctuations, fire outbreaks and misplacement of devices and other objects.

Common health hazards that relate to mobile phones are headaches, tiredness, joint pain, induced ringing in the ears.

Causes of the threats/hazards mentioned

Repetitive Strain Injury:

i. Bad sitting posture

ii. Sitting on a chair that is unsuitable

iii. Improper positioning of fingers and wrists

iv. Typing or using the mouse over a long period of time

v. Using too much force on your fingers when typing

vi. Using a poorly designed keyboard

vii. Workstation or chair is of the wrong height hence the arms are at an unnatural position

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

i. Sitting to close to the screen of the monitor, TV or other visual display devices

ii. Staring at screens of monitor, TV or other visual display devices over a longer period of time

iii. Inability to see things displayed clearly due to faulty screens of visual display devices. This could also be due to having dirt on the screen

iv. When the room does not have enough lighting system

Hearing Impairment

i. Laud volumes of sound devices

ii. Listening to a particular sound for a long period

iii. Sitting too close to sound devices

iv. Overusing earbuds/earphones/headset

Mobile phone hazards

i. Using mobile phones for a very long time can cause headaches and tiredness

ii. Joint problems are normally caused by holding the mobile phone for more than 15 minutes

iii. Using the phones over a long period, having laud volumes and holding the phone too close can weaken the eardrum

iv. Receiving phone calls while the phone is being charged can lead to shocks/deaths

Accidents

i. Using faulty plugs and sockets

ii. Using faulty extension boards

iii. Spilling drinks and food can cause electrical shock and machine malfunction

iv. Plugging too many power cables to one extension board/socket

v. Improper lifting of heavy ICT devices (like CRT monitors) can cause you to fall or fracture some bones

vi. Faulty ICT equipment can trigger fire

vii. Power fluctuations can also trigger fire

viii. Running too many cables across within an ICT environment

ix. Having too many ICT equipments within a limited environment

How to prevent these hazards

Repetitive Strain Injury:

i. Use the right desk (i.e. table & chairs)

ii. The desk should be suitable to your height and comfort

iii. Keep elbows close to your sides

iv. Take regular breaks at regular intervals (at least 10 minutes every hour)

v. Position keyboards appropriately

vi. If affordable, use ergonomic keyboards

vii. Develop good typing techniques

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

i. Look away from the monitor and focus on a distant object from time to time to relax the eye muscles.

ii. ICT tools should be positioned so that sunlight does not reflect on their screens

iii. The rooms where the ICT tools are used should be well lit.

iv. Keep the screens of monitors and TV clean

v. Blink your eyes regularly

vi. Use screen filters on CRT monitors to reduce the brightness and emissions from affecting the sight

vii. Keep your eyes at least 18 inches away from the screen

viii. Have regular eye tests and wear glasses if prescribed

Back problems

i. Use the correct seating position and sit upright so that your back fully touches the back of the chair and your head up

ii. Do not strain the back and neck by stretching or becoming rigid

iii. Do not lean

iv. Take regular bodily exercises

v. Allow enough space between you and your ICT tools for easier bodily movements

vi. The room should allow for easily bodily movements

vii. Stand up, stretch and regularly move around at regular intervals

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Hearing Impairment

i. Keep the volumes of sound devices at reasonable levels

ii. Turn off the sound devices sometimes and enjoy some silence

iii. Go for ear tests regularly

iv. Take earbuds/earphones/headsets off the ear and enjoy natural sounds after long use

How to prevent Mobile Phone Hazards

i. Take breaks on phone calls

ii. Change positions regularly when receiving or making calls

iii. Phone volumes should be at suitable levels

iv. Do not receive calls while you are charging the phone. At least, remove the phone from the charging unit first

Accidents

i. There should be no trailing wires around areas where people walk

ii. Place cables inside cable ducts or under a carpet

iii. Electrical sockets should not be overloaded

iv. Use Stabilizers and UPS (Interrupted Power Supply) to check power fluctuations

v. Electrical equipment should be tested and maintained at least once a year

vi. Bags and obstacles should be stored away from ICT tools

vii. Room heating and ventilation should be suitable

viii. Working desk should be strong enough to support required ICT tools

ix. Fire extinguishers should be made available

x. You should learn how to use the fire extinguishers

xi. Fire exits should be clearly marked and free from clutter

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