The Evolution of Office Technology & Screen Position Recommendations

BOB

I recently was given a copy of a monograph written by Bob Sellars, a New Zealand based physiotherapist with a particular interest in Functional Capacity Assessment. The Monograph is very useful as it provides a historical perspective of the introduction of typewriters and computers and an analysis of various recommendations about screen position in relation to the operator.

The monograph also discusses causes of ‘injuries’ to computer operators. The issues with classification of disorders and measurement of mechanical factors are flagged. There is reference to evidence about the inconclusive effects of various ergonomic measures on the incidence of neck, shoulder and arm musculoskeletal disorders amongst computer users. Evidence about the relative importance of psychosocial factors over the physical demands of computer tasks is presented with a caution about risks associated with any suggestion that computers are a serious risk to health.

From my perspective (as presented on this site), the underlying factor in most cases of neck/shoulder/arm pain related to computer use probably has a neurogenic basis due to postural loading of the brachial plexus at the level of the thoracic outlet. Psychological factors are also important modifiers of an individual’s physiological response to  postural demands associated with computer work. I agree that presenting computer use as a serious health hazard is unhelpful, but there are also hazards associated with presenting these types of disorders as purely psychological. Neck and shoulder posture at work remains an important consideration in ensuring the comfort,  health and well-being of employees and an understanding of the basis of current recommendations about screen position is very helpful.

I would like to thank Bob for allowing me to post his monograph on this site.

Here is a link:

Monograph by Bob Sellars

About Tasworkdoc

As an occupational physician in private medical practice in Hobart, Tasmania - the southernmost state of Australia, I see workers referred by their general practitioners with various types of work-related injuries and diseases. These are mostly musculoskeletal injuries, both of traumatic and gradual onset as well as various associated psychological disorders. With interaction with patients for treatment and providing advice about rehabilitation, I have the opportunity, first-hand, to observe interactions between individual patients and compensation systems. I also conduct independent medical assessments, including impairment assessments for musculoskeletal injuries and asbestos-related disease compensation. This provides another perspective of workers within compensation systems.
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