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Ergonomics for PC and Keyboarding – UK-RSI


The subject of ergonomics is an issue that all IT trainers should be aware of; it goes without saying that they should ensure their knowledge is taught to their clients or students.

It is not easy to make others take the matter seriously; young people especially tend to believe they are not at risk! Nothing could be further from the truth and it is the responsibility of a good trainer to ensure all pc users should take necessary precautions to alleviate the chance of sustaining RSI (Repetitive strain injury) related problems.

RSI affects many people from diverse types of employment, all of which have one thing in common – that is the necessity of repetitive movement (this is not limited to arm and hand movement) but just who is at risk may not be immediately obvious. One of the most common images many people will have, upon hearing the term RSI, is that of the supermarket checkout person, with the constant wrist action of passing items over the electronic scanner. However, not many people will consider that musicians, artists, sportspeople (to suggest but a few), along with pc users are potentially at risk. Once the notion is suggested it makes perfect sense, think of a drummer or pianist, violinists – all of whom are ‘at risk’ to potential RSI, at the very least through their wrist actions and, among other things, poor posture.

There are non-believers of RSI, those who believe it is all in the mind - but any sufferer will know this is untrue. The problem often is that there is no visible sign to be seen in an apparently healthy person. Neither is this a modern 'illness', it is said that Leonardo da Vinci was an RSI sufferer!

All IT Trainers know that frequent users of the PC and keyboard should be aware of, at the minimum, basic ergonomics. The working environment should be given much attention, comfortable chair, and right height for desk and monitor, lighting are (or at least should be taught) a basic part of Health and Safety instruction. Unfortunately, in reality, not many people give sufficient consideration to putting the theory into practice. Employers should also be responsible for ensuring good practices are carried out, this is not always the case, and individuals must then be responsible for their own well being. Dare it be said, IT trainers may not always give enough time and thought to correct ergonomics!

As with many things in life, it can be a case of ‘I feel alright so there can’t be anything wrong’. One of the problems with many RSI related problems, is that the little symptoms often tend to be overlooked, tingling in the hands – for example – can be rather subdued for several years, the sufferer tends to shrug if off, until one day it becomes a much bigger problem. One incident can provoke the damaged nerves or muscles to react in a way which can appear to be a potentially life shattering occurrence. RSI can be a frightening and lonely experience.

If this sounds a little drastic, sufferers of RSI related problems are able testify that it is not! That is why it is vital for people to realise that it need not be life shattering, lonely or frightening.

There are many professional website resources available giving information and advice on Ergonomics. RSI-UK is one of the leading websites for advice and self help. The RSI Association have this piece of advice to give, which all computer users would be well advised to take heed of:

’If your hands hurt or tingle when you use a keyboard if you get pain in your elbow, wrist, or shoulder – you should see your doctor!

The UK-RSI website supplies information on self-help for RSI sufferers within the UK, they also have information on strategies, articles, resources, books and related links. TrainingZONE will be happy to share your experiences or comments on the issues of RSI write to Kathleen Hopper IT Training Editor


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