|Volume 1: No. 35|
You may hear that repetitive motion disorders constitute 52% of workplace illnesses. Although true, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace-related illnesses are less than 1/25 as common as injuries. Repetitive motion is a factor in less than 2% of reported workplace health problems, and most of these cases are in factories, meat-packing plants, agriculture, carpentry, etc. The 1989 figure was about 2 new cases per 10,000 office workers, vs. 20 cases per 10,000 for other workers. Lower back pain has ten time the rate for office workers, and ten times the cost per affected worker. [Chris Grant (chris.grant @um.cc.umich.edu), C+HEALTH, 10/2.]
If you have back problems, you may need to spend time standing instead of sitting. (Winston Churchill used a standing desk.) If you also have a sitting desk, beware of back strain when you bend down for a quick keyboard command. One solution is the Tiffany Sit/Stand Workstation, a pneumatic work stand that adjusts from 24.5" to 38" high. It can hold a 43lb monitor, with your CPU held vertically on the floor behind the lift. The keyboard shelf comes with a wrist rest and is wide enough for a mouse pad. $495, Tiffany Office Furniture (St. Louis, MO), (800) 331-6315. [Wayne A. Yacco, MicroTimes, 10/28.]
Lew Neuman (Indiana U.) recommends the NADA-CHAIR, a saddle arrangement with a sling that loops over your knees. About $30; (800) 722-2587. [C+HEALTH, 9/25.] I tried this out, substituting one or two karate gi belts. It gives powerful back support, and reminds you to lean forward and sit up straight. [Curling your legs under may cut off circulation. A footrest helps -- I use a hot water bottle -- or you can get a chair with the seat sloping down. Sitting on the edge of your chair also works.]
Some people like to have the keyboard in their laps. ERGO- NOMIC (Long Beach, CA) makes a lap pillow that holds your keyboard and eases backache, shoulder strain, and repetitive strain injuries. Their Dynamic Footrest adjusts for leg length and chair height, and also massages your feet. (800) 829-895.
MicroComputer Associates (Los Angeles, CA) offers several wrist-support and palm-support devices. They also have a platform that adjusts keyboard angle. (213) 301-9400. Almost any computer magazine or catalog now lists several such devices. The new Mac portables come with built-in wrist rests.
I previously mentioned using a rolled up towel as a wrist rest. It works, and you can adjust the height and width by the way you roll the towel. (Try butcher wrap.) I'm now using a closed-cell foam pad, about 1 inch high. I can't say which is better, but they are different. A pad two or three inches wide is adequate, although six inches can help reduce sideways bend in your wrists. At ten inches, I find that I lean forward and rest on my elbows -- which tires my neck.
Byte (10/91) has an article on ergonomics. PC Week (10/15) had a feature on mice, trackballs, and pens.
Jani Spede (email@example.com) has written online articles about computer health problems. I summarized her Carpal Tunnel Syndrome article in V1 N26. Two others, which she is willing to send, cover ergonomic devices for wrist problems and for computer- related eyestrain. [C+HEALTH, 10/22.]
The Maltron (England) keyboard has two curved halves, with a space key under each thumb. The Medinova (Sweden) keyboard comes with adjustable wrist rests. QWERTY-layout keys are in vertical rows, shifted so that middle fingers don't have to curve more than outer ones. Return and backspace buttons can be hit with the thumb, and there seems to be a built-in trackball. [Alexander D. Rosen (firstname.lastname@example.org), comp.human-factors, 7/29.]
The BAT keyboard is a split "chord" keyboard from Infogrip (Baton Rouge, LA), (504) 336-0033. A Mac version is available. [Andrew Dent (email@example.com), comp.human-factors, 9/4.]
Tom Leathrum (firstname.lastname@example.org) has written a Mac program that lets you use your numeric keypad for all typing input. You can FTP it from /info-mac/cp/one-hand.hqx on sumex-aim.stanford.edu. [misc.handicap, 8/19.]