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Laptops and devices

Laptops, tablets, and devices are very portable, allowing us to work from any location. However, how we use them can impact our health.

As with desktop computers, poor ergonomic set up is often responsible for musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.

Tips

  • Take regular breaks
  • Use a separate keyboard and monitor.

Potential harm

  • Eye discomfort
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

Identified hazards and controls

Musculoskeletal disorders

Cause

  • Bending neck to see the mobile device screen.
  • Holding a tablet for too long.
  • Constantly swiping the device.

What workers can do

Tablets
  • Avoid holding the tablet in your hands for lengthy periods. Tablet devices can be put on a stand or use a cover that has a stand built in. You should not be bending your neck to see the screen.
  • Use a separate keyboard if using a tablet device for long periods.
  • Change positions, move around, and change postures, the less time spent in the same posture the better.
  • Use both hands or use the other hand to give your dominant one a rest.
  • Try using many fingers, as you would on a keyboard.
  • Don't press hard.
  • Stop using the device, take a break for an hour or so, or switch it off.
Laptop
  • Use a separate keyboard and a monitor that you can adjust to the right height. With laptops and tablets there is a tendency to put the device on a desk and work, requiring you to bend your neck forward to see the screen.
  • Alternatively, if you elevate your laptop to view the screen properly, use an external keyboard and mouse to avoid raising your arms out of the neutral position.

What employers can do

  • If tablets and laptops are provided to workers, provide docking ports in the office with and external keyboard, mouse and adjustable height screen.
  • If tablet and laptops are used as a work tool, ensure policies and procedures are in place to recommended how they should be used.
  • Avoid requiring workers to conduct most of their work on a tablet device.

Eye discomfort

Cause

  • Staring at a device for long periods.
  • Glare.

What workers can do

  • If you are regularly experiencing headaches after viewing a screen for long periods, you may need your vision checked by an optometrist.
  • Use your glasses, if you need to.
  • Try and position your device so there isn’t glare from the sun, lights or other reflective surfaces.
  • If possible and it suits you, adjust the settings on your device to larger fonts and better contrasting colours.
  • Adjust the ‘ease of access’ options on your device.
  • Look away from the screen at intervals.

What employers can do

  • If devices are used as a work tool, ensure there are policies and procedures in place for recommended use.
  • Discourage the use of tablets to compose large emails for work purposes.
  • Avoid the requirement for workers to conduct most of their work on a tablet or smart phone.
Page last reviewed: 03 May 2021

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 03 Oct 2022

https://www.comcare.gov.au/office-safety-tool/spaces/work-areas/laptops-devices