Jessica Jeppsson [1] from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University writes that the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health reported that 50% of all employees in office settings are often so engaged in computer work that they forget to take breaks.

This can lead to headaches, wrist pain, back discomfort and eye strain. To eliminate this, and to prevent repetitive stress injuries, ergonomic software can be installed on workplace computers to prompt users to take regular breaks. The frequency of the breaks can be based on mouse clicks, keyboard strokes, the duration of breaks taken, and the frequency of the prompts given.

When a break is triggered a software window pops up on the screen, the user can then choose to activate the break or to ignore it. When activated, animations display hand, neck and shoulder stretches which are designed to interrupt the repetitive nature of computer work, increase circulation, relieve tension and give the user an energy boost.

[1] R10853 Jeppsson, J., (2009), Workspace comfort, Industrial Engineer, Vol 41, Iss 3, pp 58-59, Institute of Industrial Engineers-Publisher, Norcross

Neil Crawford

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