Did you know… your computer could cause you health problems?

At this time of year, with deadlines and exams looming, it can seem like you spend every waking hour staring at a computer screen, with your hand permanently fused to a mouse or keyboard. But have you ever thought about the potential damage it could be doing to your health? A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) survey discovered that regular users of display screen equipment suffered symptoms including shoulder and back pain (39% and 37% of participants), headaches (52%) and eye discomfort (58%). Poor posture while using computer equipment can ultimately lead to chronic, painful conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines and trapped nerves; you are particularly at risk when using a laptop for a sustained period of time.

Workplaces today are responsible for ensuring employees have a safe and comfortable working environment, but what can you do as a student responsible for your own health and well-being? Remember that pushing yourself to the limit to reach a deadline now could result in you developing a condition which could set you back several months in the long run – who wants to complete modules deferred due to health problems while all their friends and course-mates are graduating?

Hands on keyboard

by ginnerobot, Flickr

Here are a few simple tips which could make all the difference:

– take a 2 minute break every 20 minutes (as well as a longer break every couple of hours)

– do simple hand and body stretches regularly

– look away from the screen regularly

– ensure your chair, desk and equipment are set up appropriately to assist good posture

– if using a laptop for long periods at home, consider investing in an external keyboard, mouse and monitor

For more information visit the university IT service’s guidance regarding laptop and display screen equipment safety or search for ‘Computer Guidance’ in shuspace. Also Google Computer User Stretches for a number of websites with effective exercise to minimise the risk from your computer use.

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