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Health and Safety Effects of Computer Use

Introduction

In the 21st century, there has been advancement within the technological environment as a result of development in information technology. Most organizations have integrated the use of computers within their workforce in order to increase efficiency. The learning institutions have also incorporated the use of computers as one of the methods of instructional strategies. This means that there are a significant number of people who spend their time operating a computer. Despite the increased advantage of computer use in terms of efficiency, there are other side effects accompanied by using computers for a long time. This paper seeks to illustrate this health and safety complication in relation to using computers and how the effects can be reduced.

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Visual complications

One of the effects of using computers is the effects on eyesight. According to a survey in the US, there is an increase in visual complications where about 80% of the citizens suffer from eye diseases. It is evident that approximately 26% of individuals who work on a computer for more than two hours develop ophthalmic complications while 14% develop skeletal complications (Mohammad & Mona 2008).

This is one of the areas that should be identified as a health problem. In most cases, individuals who work with computers occasionally report cases of eye discomfort which in some cases result in visual complications. These complications have been referred to as ‘computer vision syndrome’ (American Optometric Association 1997). The computer eye syndrome results in other related complications such as far and short-sightedness, glaucoma and eye stress ( The eye care blog 1999). According to a national survey by the American Optometric Association doctors, approximately 14% of the patients with eye-related complications attest to the course as being a result of working with a computer. In most cases, the patients complain of eyestrain, shoulder and neck pains, headaches and blurred vision (American Optometric Association 1997). According to the American Society of Optometrists, ophthalmic complications are evident in approximately 70-75% of computer users (Mohammad & Mona 2008).

Despite this; there is a direct relationship between the extent to which the individuals experience these symptoms. This is due to the fact that the effects depend upon the individual’s visual ability with regard to the visual demand of the job being done using the computer. This shows that the level of eye and visual complication depends on the visual demand of the task. This means that there is a high chance of developing complications in cases of high visual requirements while working with a computer. This does not mean that computers should not be used in doing tasks. This is due to the fact that the vision complications experienced by individuals operating in a computer are in most cases temporal. This means that these complications end at the end of using the computer.

Visual demand while working with a computer

While working with a computer, the visual demands are usually high in relation to a typewritten page. This is due to the fact that the letters on the computer screen are not precisely defined. There is reduced contrast between the letters and the background and also increased reflections from the screen. This means that the visual demands are high.

The visual demands are also high due to the visual angle required while working with a computer which puts a strain on the eye movement (American Optometric Association 1997). The visual demands may be difficult for elderly individuals working with a computer.

Coping with the visual demands

In order to cater to the visual demands, the individuals should incorporate the use of contact lenses. The computer operator should ensure that the contact lenses prescribed are specific to the occupation. This would help the individual in meeting the visual demands of the task.

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The computer operator should ensure that the lenses used are unique to the task. This means that the individual has to ensure that the lenses are specifically designed. There should also be a consideration of the lens’s power, tints and coatings. All these are designed to cope with the visual demands which are a cause of visual complications. It is also recommended that computer operators should regularly visit the physicians in order to get eye examinations (Mohammad & Mona 2008). This would help in the identification of a pending eye complication and deal with it before the condition worsens. It has been reported that individuals who use eyewear while operating a computer have reduced cases of visual complications and increased comfort. This has resulted in an improvement in the level of efficiency in relation to work.

In order to reduce visual stress, the user should avoid sticking in front of a computer for a long time. This is through the incorporation of occasional breaks in the process of performing tasks using the computer. These task breaks should be specific to the operator’s visual requirements. This will contribute towards the reduction of eye stress and fatigue (Mohammad & Mona 2008). Reducing visual demands can also be done by good ergonomic design and proper adjustment of the computer. In order to avoid computer reflections, the operators should ensure that they wear dark clothing.

The users should also ensure that they reduce the screen brightness. This will help in increasing the image stability and character.

Musculoskeletal problems

Most computer users report cases of muscular pains. There has been an increase in the prevalence of these disorders which has been reported to be at 81%. The most affected regions are the neck and the shoulders (Valarie 2005).

In order to solve these muscular disorders, it should be ensured that the workstation is well designed. It should be ensured that the furniture within the workstation is adjustable. This will help the computer operators in adjusting their postures thus reducing their strain.

Due to the development in technology, there has been the development of computer appliances such as detachable keyboards and screens which allow the operators to arrange their work station according to their needs (American Optometric Association 2008).

Radiations

The computers also emit some radiation just like other electrical appliances. These radiations are either ionizing or non-ionizing. These radiations are either in the form of light, infrared and x-ray emissions. With regard to computers emitting these radiations, they are considered immeasurable. This means that they are considered to be below the level of safety that is recommended (American Optometric Association 1997). There are numerous studies that have been conducted to determine the safety effects of using computers with respect to the radiations emitted. After a repeated study, there is no link that has been established in relation to using computers to eye complications. According to American Physics Association, there is no sufficient evidence to conclude that the radiations by the computers cause health complications to be it cancer or eyes complications such as cataracts (Patel, Henderson & Bradley 1991).

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Since computers are electrical devices, their usage leads to the accumulation of electrostatic charges on the screen. This leads to the accumulation of airborne substances such as dust on the screen. These have been associated with the development of skin rashes in some computer operators who are very sensitive.

Reducing the effects of computer radiations

In order to reduce these effects, the computer operator should regularly clean the screen. These radiations should not cause panic to the users. This is due to the fact that the small radiations emitted by the computers can be reduced. This is through the usage of the radiation filter screens. These screens are capable of eliminating the radiations with an efficiency of 99%. These filters are available for all types of monitors.

The users should also ensure that the central processing unit of the computer is placed at a considerable distance from the body (Patel, Henderson & Bradley 1991).

Conclusion

It is evident that computer usage results in an increase in health and safety risks. For instance, it can result into visual impairment such as far or short-sightedness. Computers being electrical devices emit some radiation. These radiations are very low which makes computer usage not to be considered as a health risk with respect to the radiations.

The health and safety risk posed by the usage of computer for a long time should not cause individuals to panic. This is due to the fact that these effects are manageable and can be reduced if not eliminated. For instance, the effects of radiation can be eliminated by fitting the monitors with the filter screen. In order to cope with the divergent visual demands of different tasks, it is important that the computer operator should take breaks between tasks. The working environment should be designed in such a way that it does not result in musculoskeletal disorders such as shoulder and neck pain. This makes it evident that despite the health and safety aspects of using computers, these effects can be successfully reduced.

Bibliography

American Optometric Association, 1997. The effect of computer use on eye health and vision, St Louis Publishers: Landenberg. Web.

Blurt it, Ask it answer it.2009. Do computer radiations have any ill effects?

Clayton B, Seema V, Ashbala K. 2005.Computer vision syndrome: A Review. J Survophthalmol Publishers: Bangkok.

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Kathy S. 2005. Tips for managing computer vision syndrome. Web.

Mohammad, G.M & Mona, A. 2008.Evaluation of frequency of complications of working with computers in a group of young adult computer users, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran.

Patel, S., Henderson, R., Bradley, L.1991. Effects of visual display unit use on blink rate and tear Stability. Optom Vis Sci Publishers.

Sauter S. Chapman L.J. Knutson S.J. 1984 Improving VDT work: causes and control of health concerns of VDT use. Department of preventive medicine. University of Wisconsin: Wisconsin.

Rachel, V.N 2001.Work and the eye, Butterworth Heinemann. Oxford.

Valerie W. 2005. Musculoskeletal disorders and visual strains in the intensive data processing workers, Society of Occupational medicine: New York.

Sheedy J.E. 1996 The bottom line on fixing computer-related vision and eye problems. J Am Optom Association publishers: New Delhi.

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