Health, Safety, and Environment

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Computers are complex machines with wide- ranging ramifications . Before using a computer, you need to understand some of the health, safety, and environmental impacts of the computer.


Ergonomics is a relatively new branch of applied science that is concerned with designing workplaces that are both efficient and comfortable. An understanding of basic computer ergonomics issues will help ensure that your computing time is healthful.

Creating a Good Working Environment

Understand what elements and practices can help create a good, working environment such as: appropriate positioning of monitors , keyboards and adjustable chairs, use of a mouse mat, use of a monitor filter, provision of adequate lighting and ventilation , frequent breaks away from the computer.

Ergonomics experts have developed a number of recommendations for a good working environment for those who use computers. Although there is some debate about which factors are the most important, general recommendations include the following:

  • The monitor should be positioned directly in front of you at a comfortable height so that you do not have to twist your body or crane your neck to view information.

  • The keyboard should be placed in a location where you can type with your wrists flat and straight and your elbows at a 90-degree angle.

  • Your chair should be adjustable for a comfortable height and provide adequate lumbar support.

  • If you use a mouse, a good quality mouse mat will help you position the cursor onscreen accurately without excessive arm movements.

  • Lighting should be adequate to view any documents you are working with but must not reflect excessive glare from the monitor. If it is impossible to lower the lights to this level, you should install a glass monitor filter to cut down on the glare.

  • Like any other workplace, the computer-oriented workplace should have sufficient ventilation to provide fresh air at all times.

  • You should take frequent breaks, stretching and moving away from the computer at least once every 3060 minutes.

Health Issues

One good reason to follow ergonomic recommendations is to avoid some of the health problems that can be associated with computer use.

Health Problems of Computers

List some common health problems which can be associated with using a computer such as: injuries to wrists caused by prolonged typing, eye strain caused by screen glare, back problems associated with poor seating or bad posture .

What could go wrong if you ignore ergonomic recommendations? Plenty, as it turns out:

  • Improper keyboard positioning and failure to take adequate breaks can cause a variety of problems, including bursitis, tendonitis, and (perhaps the most serious common disorder associated with computers) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).

  • Working without a glare shield or with a monitor that is not properly aligned can lead to serious eyestrain.

  • Poor posture or unadjustable seating can contribute to back strain.

To avoid these problems, you should make sure that your computer work area is set up in an ergonomically correct fashion. Also, you should not ignore symptoms. If you feel tingling or numbness in your arms, strain in your eyes, or lower back pain, you should seek help in locating and correcting the cause of the problem.


As industrial machinery goes, computers are actually very safe. But that doesn't mean that you can ignore basic safety precautions that you should take with any electrical device.

Computer Safety

List some safety precautions when using a computer such as: ensuring power cables are safely secured, power points are not overloaded.

Remember, computers are electrical devices. A powerful computer can draw several hundred watts of power when it's working hard. You should treat computer wiring with the respect due to any electrical wiring. Make sure that power cords and other cables are out of traffic areas and that they are anchored to prevent sudden disconnection or hazards to those passing by. You should also avoid overloading the electrical power supply by plugging too many devices into a single outlet.

The Environment

Although it's not as dramatic as the impact of other machinery, computers do have an impact on the environment. The exam might ask you how to minimize this impact.

Environmentally Friendly Computing

Be aware that recycling printed outputs, recycling printer toner cartridges, using a monitor that consumes less power while the computer is inactive can help the environment.

Here are some things that you can do to ease the impact of your computing on the environment:

  • Computers make it easy to print a lot of pages of output that you don't really need for the long term . You should recycle excess printouts.

  • Rather than discard used printer toner cartridges, you can send them to a service that will recycle and refill them. In addition to making less garbage, this approach will also save you money.

  • Consider purchasing a monitor that consumes less power when you're not actively using the computer. In the United States, look for products that carry the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star logo to guarantee energy efficiency.

Saving Paper

Understand that using electronic documents can help reduce the need for printed materials.

Computers do have one major positive impact on the environment: businesses can use far less paper now than they did before computerization was common. By referring to information online, sending email instead of paper mail, and storing documents on your computer's hard drive, you can help minimize the amount of paper that your organization consumes.

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ICDL Exam Cram 2
ICDL Exam Cram 2
ISBN: 0789730928
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 142 © 2008-2017.
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