A weblog dedicated to Ergonomics education, dicussion and debate. This emerging field has the power to transform industry, business and the lives of ordinary people for the better. The Industrial Athlete intends to encourage and document our profession's vision of an ergonomically-friendly future!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Laptop Use: Don't Use It On Your Lap

A recent article in the British newspaper, The Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/healthmain.html?in_article_id=483582&in_page_id=1774&ct=5), details the results of laptop use in unconventional positions, including the lap:

Thousands of students are developing neck, shoulder and wrist pains after using laptops in bed, on the floor or on their laps.

A survey conducted by University College London for the Ergonomics Society found 57 per cent of students had experienced aches and pains due to laptop use, with seven per cent having pain a lot of the time.

One in five had neck and shoulder pains, while 16 per cent said they suffered wrist ache and 15 per cent said their back hurt.


The research found 42 per cent of respondents used their laptop on their laps, 29 per cent in bed and 13 per cent on the floor.

On average, students used their laptops for almost five-and-a-half hours a day, which ergonomist Rachel Benedyk, who led the research, said would be considered extensive in a risk assessment.

Assuming a variety of non-neutral, static postures for hours a day, in addition to strain in the workplace? Ouch.

Thankfully, Rachel supplies us with tips for safe laptop use:

• Choosing a laptop with as large and clear a screen as possible (14" diagonal or more)
• Sitting with the laptop centrally aligned with your body with your wrists in line with your forearms, your shoulders relaxed and your back supported
• Make sure the laptop is stable and will not wobble or slide as your work
• Rest your eyes frequently and blink more to prevent them feeling dry

Using at a desk that has been optimized for ergonomic factors is the ideal scenario (e.g. height adjustability), but keeping it off the floor or bed will ensure body postures that are alot less stressful for the user.


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