We all spend hours working at our computers–and at times end our workday aching and stiff, especially as deadlines loom menacingly. The thought of job-related injury is not something that we think of often–after all, we’re not using dangerous equipment; we are only sitting, reading, and writing–but it’s not something we should ignore.
Often work breaks consist of checking on our Facebook page–more computer use. As a veteran of computer-use repetitive stress injury (RSI), occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), or many other sobriquets and acronyms, that necessitated several hand surgeries, I’ve had to be more alert to these problems to prevent recurrence. I’m always looking for ways to avoid the wrist splints at nighttime.
While browsing my Facebook page this morning I saw a notification of a post from Editors’ Association of Earth by AElfwine Mischler commenting on such problems. A link to “Protecting Yourself From Injury While Using a Computer – Part 2” was included. I thought there was good advice for all of us in this article. After reading it, I also “backtracked” to Part 1 as well–more good advice here, too, on seating, and workplace layout.Part 2 addresses hand and arm problems and possible solutions.
In addition to attending to the larger issues of avoiding injury while using the computer, the thing I’ve found most useful in my safe-use efforts (while still maintaining my work) is taking frequent breaks.
I can become so engrossed in working that hours pass quickly until I’m disturbed by a pain here and an ache there, so I resort to software to help me avoid recurrent problems. I’ve not tested the software mentioned in the articles above–I’m still using WorkPace (reinstalled along with PawSense after I had to do a computer upgrade and to be reinstalled after my next impending upgrade). When I’m working intensely I particularly like its “microbreak” capability of WorkPace–although I don’t get many interruptions from it. Just like PawSense effectively trained Frankie to stay off the keyboard (it hisses at him–and me especially in the mornings before my brain is fully functional), WorkPace has trained me to a pace of work that makes it almost unnecessary for it to interrupt me–so I have unobtrusive injury prevention going on at all times.
For my own protection I have set the software to enforce rigorously my longer breaks every two hours, with stretching exercises. If I’m really concentrating I can continue doing that at the same time as I’m doing some stretching exercises. Admittedly, at times I may curse the software for interruptions, but at the end of the day I feel much better because of those interruptions.