The ICT Lounge
Section 5.4:
Potential Health Problems related to ICT

Even though using a computer is not a physically taxing job, there are some health problems that can arise if we are not careful.

In this section we discuss the main health issues that are related to using ICT and computers and also how to prevent them.

Use the information provided to fill out the research sheet which can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.

Key Concepts of this section:

Understand what RSI is and be able to describe how to prevent it.
Understand what causes back / neck problems and be able to describe how to prevent them.
Understand what causes eye strain / headaches and be able to describe how to prevent them.

Health Problems related to ICT
Key Words:
RSI, Back Strain, Eye Strain, Headaches, Ergonomics, Posture, Flicker, Glare.
There are a number of health problems that you can suffer if you use ICT devices incorrectly or for too long. The main ones are:

Repetitive Strain Injury(RSI)

RSI causes painful swelling of joints such as the shoulder, wrist and fingers. Sufferers with really bad RSI are unable to use their hands at all.

RSI is a very painful inflammation of the wrist
and fingers.
Ergonomic keyboards are designed to be more comfortable on the wrist and fingers whilst typing.
Ergonomic mice are more comfortable and can be used for longer periods of time than regular mice.
The symptoms are similar to arthritis with sufferers experiencing pain and swelling. Extreme cases can cause people to be unable to perform simple functions like typing.

RSI is caused by doing the same small movements over and over again across a long period of time.

For Example:
Repeatedly clicking a mouse button or moving fingers across a keyboard whilst typing.

Computer users who type and use a mouse all day long are commonly affected.

Causes of RSI and how to prevent it:
Causes of RSI:
How to prevent RSI:
Typing on a computer for too long.
Take breaks to rest your hands.
Using a mouse for long periods.
Use an ergonomic keyboard.
Holding a mouse incorrectly.
Use an ergonomic mouse or a rollerball.
Typing on a keyboard with incorrect posture.
Use a wrist rest.
Working in a cramped workspace.
Arrange your workspace so that there is enough space to work comfortably.

Preventing RSI in pictures:
Take breaks away from computer.
Use an ergonomic keyboard.
Spacious work area.
Wrist rests maintain a comfortable hand position.

Some videos:

Here are some links to videos that contain more information about repetitive strain injury and how you can prevent it:

Back and Neck problems

Back ache and neck ache can cause great pain and really affect the quality of your life.

Sitting incorrectly in front of a computer can cause painful conditions like backache.
Adjustable chairs allows the user to find their
most comfortable seating position.
Utilising some rules of ergonomics can help prevent backache and neckache (click image to zoom).

Ergonomics focuses on creating comfortable working environments for people.

Adjustable chairs
, wrist rests, ergonomic keyboards etc are examples of ergonomics.

Both back and neck ache can be caused by sitting incorrectly and using poor quality chairs without back rests.

This is called poor posture.

Seating Posture:
The images to the right show you both the incorrect and correct ways to sit at a computer.

(Click the image to see a larger version with more information)

Causes of Backache / Neckache and how to prevent them:
Causes of back and neckache:
How to prevent back and neckache:
Working in a cramped work space.
Take regular breaks to stretch your body.
Not sitting upright in your chair.
Use adjustable chairs so you can sit in a position suitable for your height.
Sitting with poor posture.
Sit upright against the back rest.
Incorrect positioning of the computer screen.
Tilt the computer screen so it is set just below your eye level.
Keep your feet flat on the floor (or use a footrest)
Keep your work space tidy.

Preventing Backache / Neckache in pictures:
Adjustable chairs allow you
to sit with correct posture.
Sit in the correct, most comfortable posture.
Use a screen that can be tilted and have its height altered.
Use a footrest.

Some videos:

Here are some links to videos that contain more information about backache / neckache and how you can prevent them:

Eye Strain and Headaches

Staring at a computer screen for too long can strain your eyes and cause headaches.

Using computers can cause eye strain which can
lead to headaches.
Screen glare can be caused by using a computer in direct light.
Visible flickering on computer screens can contribute to eye strain and headaches.
TFT screens are less prone to screen glare and flicker than older CRT monitors.
Eye strain can cause your vision to blur.

Common causes of eye strain are screen flicker and having direct light causing screen glare (see video examples below).

Causes of Eye Strain and how to prevent it:
Causes of eye strain:
How to prevent eye strain:
Staring at a computer screen for a long time.
Take regular breaks (every hour or so) to rest your eyes.
Working in a room with bad lighting.
Use TFT screens rather than CRT as they have less flicker and glare .
Glare or flicker an the computer screen.
Use an anti-glare screen to help reduce screen glare.
Dirt on the screen can cause you to strain to see the images or characters on the screen.
Ensure that room lighting is good with no direct light causing glare on the screen.
Keep the screen clean of dirt so that you don't have to strain to see characters/images on the screen.
Have eyes tested regularly.

Preventing Eye Strain in pictures:
Take breaks away from computer to rest your eyes.
Use an LCD screen rather than an old CRT screen.
Use an anti-glare screen.
Keep the computer screen clean.

Some videos:

Here are some links to videos that contain more information about eye strain and how you can prevent it:


Click the above task and write-up the required information about how ICT can cause health problems.

Next - The Effects of Using ICT
Multiple Choice Test

Links to Theory Units:
Section 4: Networks and the Effects of using them
Section 6: ICT Applications
Section 7: The Systems Life Cycle
Section 8: Safety and Security
Section 9: Audience
Section 10: Communication
Links to Practical Units:
Section 11: File Management
Section 12: Images
Section 13: layout
Section 14: Styles
Section 15: Proofing
Section 16: Graphs and Charts
Section 17: Document Production
Section 18: Data Manipulation
Section 19: Presentations
Section 20: Data Analysis
Section 21: Website Authoring