Ergonomic Computer Equipment Pros and Cons

Ergonomic computer equipment was developed after serious issues were found with a range of computer associated health issues. It's extremely important to understand the basis of computer equipment and peripheral systems in terms of Occupational Health and Safety.

That said, the quality and price of some ergonomic equipment is debatable. Even now, some real junk is on the market, and it needs to be avoided. If you're buying or using ergonomic equipment, you need to be fully aware of the issues.

Please note: The issues and ramifications of injuries through use of ergonomically inadequate equipment can be serious for employers and employees. Some situations can lead to major lawsuits. If in any doubt, consultation with an OHS expert is advised.

Pros and cons

Good ergonomic equipment supports good posture: Workstations are particularly important. The user can sit naturally, and isn't obliged to sit in odd, unbalanced positions. The spine is properly positioned and the person is able to work normally without putting pressure on it. This avoids a range of strains and muscular stresses.

Cons: Some workstations look OK, but are quite inadequate. Nobody has the same requirements for positioning of a computer. All functions of the computer should be easy to reach and handle, particularly in highly repetitive jobs.

Keyboards: The keyboard is a good, responsive set of keys with no "rebound" effect, which is one of the causes of Repetitive Strain Injury, (RSI). It's advisable to use a name brand of keyboard, where these issues have been fixed.

Cons: Some keyboards don't have this feature, and not only provide a risk to staff, they fall apart because of wear and tear much faster.

Computer monitors: Glare is a big issue with monitors. It can cause headaches, dizziness, and even seizures, in extreme cases. The best monitors are LCD monitors, which produce less glare. Make sure all staff know how to adjust the monitor for glare.

Cons: Old style picture tube monitors are notorious for causing problems. They're relics of an era when the ergonomic issues weren't fully understood. They should be replaced ASAP with LCD monitors.

Peripherals: There's a range of common computer related equipment which has its own potential ergonomic problems. Printers, copiers, scanners, and web cams can all cause problems. Siting of peripherals is a major issue in computer ergonomics, because like computers, their use involves posture and muscular issues:

  • All equipment should be sited so the user has easy access, and isn't obliged to stretch or reach repeatedly.
  • Equipment should be positioned at a height easy for all staff to use.
  • Quality of equipment, particularly anything which gets a lot of repetitive use, should be good.

Cons: Old equipment and badly sited equipment are risks in waiting for users.

Computer cash registers: This equipment, usually a combination of computer and linked register, is in constant repetitive use, the classic causes of ergonomic injuries. All the above issues apply to these registers. Staff should be fully trained in ergonomic adjustments.

Cons: Computer cash registers should be well sited, not in restrictive environments like alcoves, and ergonomic furniture provided for users.