No one would ever argue that a typical office is as dangerous as, say, a construction site, mine or manufacturing facility. But offices do have their hazards.
For example, as people rely more and more on technology and electronic gadgets such as smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs—both at work and in their personal lives—they’re at increased risk of straining their eyes due to long, uninterrupted focus on video screens.
According to the American Optometric Association, some people may even go beyond general computer eye strain and develop “Computer Vision Syndrome,” a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer use. Its symptoms include headaches, blurred vision and even neck and shoulder pain.
How to Prevent Computer Eye Strain
Office workers are particularly vulnerable to eye strain. But you can help protect them by making changes to their computer workspaces. Here are five tips from Prevent Blindness America:
- Place computer screens 20 to 26 inches away from workers’ eyes and a little bit below eye level.
- Give workers document holders to place next to their computer screens. The holder should be close enough so the worker doesn’t have to swing his or her head back and forth or constantly change eye focus.
- Change the lighting to lower glare and harsh reflections. Consider installing glare filters over computer screens.
- Provide workers with adjustable chairs.
- Choose computer screens that can tilt and swivel. Adjustable keyboards can also be helpful.
Proper positioning of computer equipment can also help prevent office workers from developing musculoskeletal injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or strained necks, like this worker from Alberta developed. Use this checklist to identify ergonomics-related hazards in a typical office space.
Ontario’s MOL has a guide on proper computer workstation layout and lighting that also has useful tips for employers in all jurisdictions.