Faculty/Staff Ergonomics

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Campus Guidelines

Computer Health and Safety Guidelines

(updated 3/2017)

Table of Contents 

I.     Scope, Application, and Definitions
II.    Identification and Evaluation of Computer Workstation Hazards
III.   Modification of Computer Workstations and Work Practices
IV.   Health and Safety Training for Computer Users
V.    A System of Communication for Computer-related Health and Safety Issues  

VI. Information for Department Injury and Illness Prevention Programs

Appendices and Forms:  

I. Scope, Application, and Definitions

  1. Scope and Application   

    1. Deans, Directors, Departmental Chairs, and Administrative Officers are responsible for ensuring that these guidelines are incorporated into departmental or unit Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) plans.  

    2. These guidelines apply to all University employees who are required to use a computer for four hours or more a day.

  2. Definitions  

    1. Computer User: any University employee who is required to use a computer for four hours or more daily. 

    2. Computer Workstation: a computer with accompanying furniture, including a desk or table, chair, and necessary accessories, such as a keyboard, mouse, keyboard tray, wrist rest, document holder, etc.  

    3. ANSI/HFES 100-2007: American National Standards Institute/Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 100-2007 is a nationally recognized voluntary ergonomic standard applicable to computer terminals, associated furniture, and the work environment. Because the standard is written in technical language, Computer Attachment 1 entitled Computer Workstation Design Guidelines puts the general concepts of the ANSI standard in terms that are easy to implement. 

    4. Ergonomics: the scientific study of the relationship between people and the design of work.  

II. Identification and Evaluation of Computer Workstation Hazards 

Campus departments shall inspect the computer workstations of all campus employees required to use computers for four hours or more daily. Lighting for these computer workstations should also be evaluated to reduce glare and visual discomfort. All inspections should be documented on the forms described below and records kept in the department's IIPP files.  

  1. Computer workstation inspections should evaluate the factors outlined in the Computer Workstation Design Guidelines.

  2. An inspection checklist for departments to use when evaluating computer workstations is available in Computer Forms and Guidelines. See the Computer Workstation Assessment Form.

  3. A four-hour training workshop for departmental computer workstation inspectors can be obtained from Ergonomics, the campus ergonomics program for faculty and staff. See Campus Resources for Computer Health and Safety or enroll in Computer Workstation Evaluator Training online at the UC Berkeley Learning Center, found on the blu portal. 

III. Modification of Computer Workstations and Work Practices

  1. Modification of Computer Workstations   

    1. Campus departments shall make efforts to provide computer users with workstations that conform to basic ergonomic guidelines outlined in Computer Workstation Design Guidelines. The input of computer users into the setup of their workstations is important, and departments should consider such input.  

    2. Ergonomics will ensure that all desktop computer equipment and workstation furniture available for purchase by campus departments minimally meet the American National Standard for Human Factors Engineering of Computer Workstations, ANSI/HFES 100-2007. Departments are encouraged to make appointments to select adjustable computer workstation furniture and chairs at the Campus Ergonomics showroom by calling 1-877-722-9090.  See Campus Resources for Computer Health and Safety.  

    3. Departments shall make efforts to arrange office lighting to reduce glare and prevent visual discomfort and eyestrain among computer users. Suggested solutions for reducing glare and lighting problems are outlined in the Computer Workstation Design Guidelines.  

  2. Modification of Computer Work Practices    

    1. Computer users should not be required to perform continuous, intensive keyboard work, such as highly repetitive data entry or word processing, for longer than half an hour without the opportunity for five minutes of alternate work or the employee's regularly scheduled work break. Alternate work should not include other forms of typing or data entry that are substantially similar to computer duties and should provide a rest from intensive visual demands. Departments should encourage taking rest breaks utilizing Stretch Break software downloadable through the blu portal or by a request to IST support.  

    2. Departments should design jobs that do not require continuous, full-time computer work whenever feasible. Where possible, job assignments should be structured to facilitate task rotation to minimize the risk of repetitive strain injuries and visual discomfort.   

  3. Special considerations: Medical and Vision Care

    1. Any employee who has a medical problem related to computer use at work should be encouraged to make an appointment at the campus Occupational Health Clinic (OHC). OHC clinicians are specialty trained in the treatment of work-related health problems. Employee medical records are completely confidential. There is no charge to the department or employee for the medical visit.   

    2. Computer users are encouraged to have periodic eye exams, making use of their UC vision care benefits for annual eye examinations and glasses, if prescribed. The Vision Service Plan may be used for an annual examination with the employee's optometrist or at UC Berkeley Optometry. Bifocal wearers may require single vision comput Cer glasses or another special design of lenses for comfortable viewing. Computer users should provide their optometrist with information on the viewing distance of their screen and source documents.   

IV. Health and Safety Training for Computer Users 

Campus departments shall incorporate computer training in the "Health and Safety Training" component of their Injury and Illness Prevention Program. The computer training program should review the health concerns associated with computer use as well as protective measures that should be taken to prevent computer-related health problems. Campus Resources for Computer Health and Safety lists the resources available for training information and assistance.  

  1. The following training should be made available: 

    1. An initial training for all staff who are required to use a computer four hours or more a day, including new hires and staff newly assigned to computer work.    

    2. Periodic refresher training for computer users.

    3. Training for all persons involved in performing computer workstation inspections.   

  2. All training should be documented and records kept with the department's Injury and Illness Prevention Program files.

V. A System of Communication for Computer-related Health and Safety Issues  

  1. Campus departments should encourage all computer users to report known or potential health and safety hazards related to computer workstation design or work practices and to recommend alternatives or solutions.  

  2. Departments should inform staff of computer-related issues using communications systems developed by their Department Safety Committee (i.e., newsletters, bulletin boards, etc.)

  3. The campus Ergonomics program for faculty and staff, will monitor new information on the health and safety issues related to computer use and make recommendations on updating these guidelines as reliable new information becomes available. 

VI. Information for Department Injury and Illness Prevention Programs 

The following resources are provided for information and assistance to departments in implementing these guidelines.