Laptops…practical or are they causing us injuries???

Laptops have revolutionised the way in which we carry out our computer-based tasks. Their design, based around mobility has however, raised a number of ergonomic dilemmas and potential risks that are greater than those associated with using a more standard desk-top configuration.

  • The fixed screen height and keyboard position cause the user to adopt a compromised ‘C’ shaped posture that places a strain on the neck, spine and associated soft-tissue structures.

  • The smaller screen size places more focal demands on the user, increasing the probability of visual strain
  • The integrated ‘touchpad’ mouse requires fine motor control of just one digit (normally the index finger) that can lead to overuse and secondary development of inflammatory related pains.

Recommendations

  • Ensure you keep conventional laptop use to a minimum especially if not using separate input devices. If you have the option to use a desk-top computer or docking station with separate screen and input devices then this is normally safer.
  • Try to use separate input devices when possible and raise the screen up on a platform (or ergonomic laptop stand)
  • Avoid using the laptop on your lap and/or in compromised spaces like public transport or the car if possible. If it can’t be avoided shorten the time between breaks to no more than 20mins.
  • If possible, transport data using a small storage device like a memory stick rather than carrying your laptop between home and work every day.

by Simon Edwards