An employer must have knowledge of the health and safety of everyone who is working for his company. It’s their responsibility to ensure complete safety of the workers in their workplace. Visual Display Units (VDU) are widely used in all types of industries and has enormous applications. The term VDU is often used synonymously with "monitor," but it can also refer to another type of display, such as a digital projector.   

VDU is considered as a contributing factor to a back injury from poor ergonomics and eye strain from incorrect positioning of equipment or regarding lighting. The General Application Regulations 2007 contains a list of minimum requirements in which the employer is obliged to carry out a risk assessment of each VDU workstation.

Office work environments don’t generally involve as much heavy lifting, twisting and turning as industrial workplaces, but they do tend to involve a lot of repetitive movements like typing, focusing on screens, and sitting for long periods. When an employee is working for long hours with VDU,  he may be subjected to neck and back pain, decreased productivity, high levels of stress and also makes the person less energetic. 

It is better for the employer to perform an analysis of individual workstations to evaluate the safety and health of employees to make sure that the working environment is a healthy one. Research says that people working on VDU have reported various aches and discomforts which have even led to serious medical conditions. Let’s analyse come common disorders affecting the workers in a workstation. 

Disorders affecting workers in a work station

1. Neck Pain 

Neck pain is a common disorder seen in workers who usually work in a computer workstation. When you work for a long period of time your workplace you may lean too much into the desk. The muscle tightness in shoulders, upper arm and behind the neck increase the pain, causing haunting problems for workers. Some of our actions like the position of the mouse, paperwork, keyboard, scanner and monitor may create chances of neck pain. 

2. Eyestrain

Even though we may sometimes neglect the eye pain it may cause more problems than we expect. We cannot reduce the time we sit in front of the computer but should be conscientious about its harmful aftereffects. While we focus too much on the computer, especially at low light the rod cells and cone cells have to strain too much to give you a clear vision. When our eyes are subjected to too much strain that may cause headache, double vision, dry eyes, itchiness in eyes and also may lead to difficulty in focusing. 

 3. Hand & arm pain 

Constant usage of mouse and keyboard causes pain in hands and arms. When you constantly click the mouse or keep the mouse in an abnormal way it can cause problems to your tissues in the long term. This could also lead to the inflammation of the nerve tissues which could even lead to the damage of tissues. The pain in the arm may be the aftereffects of the neck pain, which may result in the numbness down the arm. The problem is that if we neglect this pain in the starting the condition may get worse making the recovery slow.

 4. Sciatica

Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. People who have severe sciatica that's associated with significant leg weakness or bowel or bladder changes might be candidates for surgery.

5. Back pain 

Sitting in an office chair for prolonged periods can definitely cause low back pain or worsen an existing back problem. The main reason behind this is that sitting in an office chair or in general, is a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs, and in particular, can add large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs. When sitting in an office chair for a long period, the natural tendency for most people is to slouch over or slouch down in the chair, and this posture can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures in the spine. Over time, incorrect sitting posture can damage spinal structures and contribute to or worsen back pain.

The VDU/ Ergonomics course helps to make your work easier and quite safe too. The size and working structure of all companies may not be similar, but for all these instances ergonomics could be a real-life saviour for you. This could help in creating a satisfying and safe workforce free from hazards and risk factors. The profit share of the company would be great as you don’t have to pay for your workers for compensation. 

According to the Safety, Health and Welfare at work regulations of 2007, some regulations are applicable for the employees if that employee has to use the VDU without any choice for a  continuous period on a daily basis. Injuries to the back generate the highest frequency of disabling injuries. According to the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of 2005, it is estimated that Europeans spend €86 billion a year on treating neck and back pain, probably more than any other ailment.

Ergonomic disorders are the fastest-growing category of work-related illness. According to the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they account for 56-63% of illnesses reported to OSHA.

Leading companies are integrating ergonomics deeply into all of their operations and it’s no wonder when you take a look at the benefits of an effective ergonomics process. Let’s now quickly analyse the proven benefits of this course. 

 Advantages of the VDU course 

1. Increased savings 

According to the latest study by OSHA, there has been a tremendous decrease in the amount of compensation given to workers due to these sorts of pain and aches. This decrease in compensation is due to the successful implementation of safety programs in the workplace. The direct and indirect costs which the employers have to pay could be extensively reduced as injuries or accidents due to bad ergonomics have reduced. The course helps the workers to work under an ergonomics integrated system to reduce the headache of the employer as his expenses are cut short.

2. Increased productivity 

The course will give the authority to work freely by avoiding the overall risk factors. Poor ergonomics may cause the workers to work in a frustrating way causing a decrease in productivity. As the workers attend the safety course they would be aware of how to behave in the workplace without any fatigue. This creates a boost up among the workers as they feel more comfortable in working also enhancing their confidence in working. By designing a job to allow for good posture, less exertion, fewer motions and better heights and reaches, the workstation becomes more efficient.

3. Reduced absentees 

Ergonomics leads to a healthy and safe working procedure which helps in reducing the number of absentees among the workers. Workers are convinced why it is important to pay attention to prevention and be educated about the benefits in terms of reduced pain and discomfort of adopting good practices and work methods. This helps in escalating employee involvement which in turn reduces the absentees.

4. Reduced risk of injuries 

Injuries of workers have always been a problem for employers. After the successful completion of the course, the worker will be aware of the various types of injuries he may have to face while in a work station. This awareness helps him to tackle situations which may cause injuries or discomfort. He may be conscious of what all changes must be done in the workstation to work without injury.

5. Creates a better working environment 

Once the course is completed the employees feel valued because they know their employer is making their workplace safer. Once problems are identified, solutions can be made in order to improve the working environment. Work environments have begun to value ergonomics more and more, and many have compulsory or offer optional ergonomics training to help employees understand the risks associated with certain aspects of work, repetitive movements, and how to avoid potential injuries. This is a win-win situation for employees and their employers as workers experience fewer injuries and a safer workplace, while employers enjoy the benefits associated with workers that are happier, healthier, and more productive.  

A VDU Assessor is someone who undertakes VDU Assessments as per the requirement under the General Application Regulations 2007. The VDU [ Visual Display Units] Accessor is an Olive safety certified course which will provide delegates with the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out a complete and accurate VDU assessment of all workstations in the workplace.