There are thousands of computer workstation safety checklists. Three offerings from official safety bodies in Britain, the US and Sweden. more

Computer Vision Syndrome
So, VDUs don't permanently damage your eyes? That doesn't mean screen-related eye problems aren't putting your health and even your life at risk, Hazards has found. more

Voice loss more

Research tools
Tools to find out if your computer workstation is hurting you and what to do about it. more

Japan: Staring at computers may cause glaucoma
The line that VDU work does not cause long-term eye problems could be wrong. Spending hours staring at a computer screen may raise the risk of glaucoma, a progressive eye disease that can lead to blindness, a new study in the December issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests.
Risks 183, 20 November 2004

Computer workstations checklist checklist

There are thousands of computer workstation safety checklists. Three recent offerings from official safety bodies in Britain, the US and Sweden should be the last word, but they show significant flaws and differences.

The checklist from the US safety watchdog OSHA is the most extensive and covers most of the key problems.

The checklist from Swedish union/management safety body Prevent is good and concise but suffers from poor translation.

From the UK, HSE's checklist is attractively produced but full of holes.

Key points from the checklists:

Postures A bolt-upright posture is unsuitable for long periods of work and for all people; postures that work for occasional keying, for example with the keyboard set back on the desk, cause problems when used for intensive keyboard work.

Wrist rests The OSHA guidance says these can hold the wrist and forearm in awkward postures.

Desk adjustment Fully adjustable desk height, eg. for standing or sitting use, is becoming common in Scandinavia but doesn't get a mention in HSE's checklist.

Mice Mouse use gets the full treatment in the OSHA document and there is recognition in HSE's checklist that forearm support is essential - some of the OSHA recommendations could cause problems.

Consultation Only the Swedish checklist asks how workers are involved in the design of workstations, work tasks and equipment purchase.

Keypads Numerical keypads are causing problems for which there are currently no solutions.

Phones Telephone use is factored into the OSHA guidance.

There is no best buy. Spend some time looking at all of these, and don't treat HSE's as a standard. Both the Swedish checklist - in spite of the translation - and the OSHA list make crucial points that the HSE checklist misses.

My computer, my way is another online guide that will help you make your PC more accessible. Easy to use sections give help on: Seeing your screen; using your keyboard and mouse, and help with language and reading.


Computer workstations, OSHA checklist, USA. online

Checklist for datascreen workplaces in an office environment, Prevent, Sweden, ISBN: 91 7522682 0. [pdf]

The HSE checklist is available in the publication Working with VDUs (INDG36 rev2), free from HSE Books or [pdf]

My computer, my way