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.
- 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.