How to reduce computer stress in the office

There’s been a lot of commentary in the media about the surge in mobile phone and tablet use, but the fact is a lot of work still gets done in the office on PCs.


Computer use is so prevalent that it’s easy to set up and get on with it, but if you and your team spend a lot of time on the computer, it’s an investment in your business to make sure you are all well set up.

Guidelines are available on WorkSafe New Zealand’s website for anyone who uses a computer – and they cover much more than setting your keyboard at the right height.

What are the risks of computer work for a small business?

There are health risks associated with computer work, as well as business risks. Health risks include things like physical discomfort, pain or injury, visual discomfort, stress and fatigue.

From a business perspective, if you are a sole trader and heavily reliant on your computer, being out of action for any period of time can seriously affect your cashflow. If you’re an employer, the consequences of not working safely with computers can include:

  • loss of earnings
  • productivity and quality problems
  • decreased efficiency
  • higher absenteeism
  • staff replacement and training costs
  • litigation and bad publicity risk
  • higher ACC premiums.

Benefits of keeping yourself and your team safe

When you consider how much time you and your employees spend on the computer each day, the benefits of getting it right can’t be underestimated. They include less discomfort, pain or injury, fewer sick days, higher efficiency and accuracy, and a harmonious work environment.

Knowing and reducing your office hazards

The Guidelines for Using Computers present an easy to adopt process that will help you spot computer hazards and take steps to minimise them. The process has five key steps:

  1. Identifying and understanding potential health issues
  2. Assessing potential hazards
  3. Controlling hazards
  4. Managing potential health issues
  5. Health monitoring and programme review

The guide also covers some of the contextual factors that can affect people’s experience of using computers, including tips on organising computer work so it’s varied, manageable and as low-stress as possible.

It’s as much an HR handbook as it is a work-station manual. If you don’t have time to read it in the busy Christmas period, bookmark it for a quiet spell in the new year and give yourself and your team a more balanced start to 2015.

Guidelines for Using Computers [PDF 1.8 MB] (external link) — WorkSafe New Zealand

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