Laying out your desk and computer

You need to make sure that the layout of your desk and computer is optimal - and this may mean purchasing some additional equipment to make you comfortable and safe against developing any form of Repetitive Strain Injury.

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'Display Screen Equipment' (DSE) refers to the combination of keyboard, mouse and monitor that you use. The procedures for using them in an office are regulated by Law. Although the DSE regulations don't apply to domestic computers, the guidance offered by the Health and Safety Executive is relevant to all computer users.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a real problem for keyboard users - and can be irreversible if it takes a hold. You must have a comfortable working position, a good keyboard, and mouse. If you start to feel any tension in your hands, arms or shoulders as you work, you already have a problem and you should take steps to resolve it. Taking exercise and forcing yourself to take regular breaks can help. It can be worse if you use a laptop - they are not designed for long periods of work.

We have known cases where the bad effect of the strain was only felt after a user had finished working and was relaxing in a chair - although the cause was the way they had been working at their computer.

Hardware that can help: Having a different kind of mouse or keyboard can help. The links in the next column are to products that we have used here in the University to solve a variety of ergonomic problems. (This list does not represent a formal endorsement of the companies shown.)

 

Seating: using an inappropriate seat or chair when working on your computer can lead to twisting and other strains. You should consider getting a proper working swivel chair and footrest which can be fully adjusted to give you a comfortable working position.