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Visual Display Units

It is possible for regular users of computers and other equipment with a visual display unit (VDU) to experience some acute ill-health effects. These usually include wrist, arm, shoulder, neck or back pain; headaches or eye-strain.

Almost invariably problems are caused by the way in which the VDU is used: it’s position on the desk, its height, the quality of the screen, and the posture of the user.

Sometimes users can suffer the effects of stress – particularly if the software is unfamiliar, or not up to the job, or the screen is difficult to read. Training in the use of both the equipment and the software is essential.

Workstations must be set up for every user as an individual. If more than one person uses a workstation, there needs to be as much adjustment as possible in the chair, table and equipment. Users must be encouraged to make the necessary adjustments – just as they would if they were driving a car.

The following items need to be considered:   

The Chair

  • it must be height and rake adjustable    
  • it must support the back    
  • it must be in good condition and able to move freely.  


The Desk

  • It must be the correct height for the chair
  • it must be deep enough to take the screen and keyboard
  • there must be enough room for papers and peripheral items

 

The Screen

  • It must be set up directly in front of the user
  • it must be at the correct height - the user must not need to bend their head
  • it must be clear and easy to read
  • there must be no glare from lighting or windows

 

The Keyboard

  • this must be directly in front of the user - not at an angle
  • there must be room in front of it to rest the wrist
  • it must be in good condition so that keying is easy


If users are concerned about their eyes, employers must offer free eyesight tests, and pay for spectacles which are identified as necessary for work with a VDU.

It is important that regular breaks from the screen are incorporated into the working day.

 

Further information is available on the HSE website

 

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