Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

RSI information for staff-members

The RSI leaflet on this page provides general information about RSI, working with Display Screen Equipment (DSE) and ways to prevent complaints.

In addition, you will find software offering instructions on how to optimally set up your workstation (digital self-help instrument) and a link to sign up for a relaxing chair massage. Other topics you can find information on include the RSI prevention software Workrave, the buying of computer glasses and the risks of working on a laptop or tablet.

Digital self help TOOL (CANS)

This CANS test can be used to see if your workstation is properly set up and if they are at risk of RSI/CANS. When you asked your faculty's or department’s HSE coordinator to do a computer monitor work station test, he or she would like to receive the results of this test before this appointment.

After answering the last question of this test, you click on ‘show the results’, click on the right mouse button “Select all”, click on the right mouse button “Copy”, open a new document in Word, click on the right mouse button “Paste options/keep source formatting” and safe the document as a pdf file where you prefer. After that you can attach it in an e-mail to your faculty's or department’s HSE coordinator.

Anti-RSI programme (Workrave)

To prevent RSI, UT staff members can download the RSI prevention software Workrave. It reminds users not only to take micro-breaks, but also to take rest breaks. In addition, Workrave provides exercises and may restrict you to a daily limit. That way, the risk of you developing complaints of the neck, shoulders, arms or hands is reduced to a minimum. You can download and install the software via www.workrave.org.

PC Monitor Glasses

If a staff member indicates having eye complaints due to display screen work, it is recommended to act as follows:

Step 1: Contact the HSE coordinator (occupational health and environmental coordinator of the faculty/service department). The HSE coordinator will first inspect whether the display screen has been installed in a correct, ergonomically sound way; if this is not the case, it is advisable to adjust the workplace.

Step 2: If adjustments to the workplace are not possible, or if the complaints continue after the adjustments; the HSE Coordinator of the faculty or service department in question fills in the statement of approval (approval of the payment of costs and indicating OFI number).

Step 3: The staff member visit one of the affiliated opticians (see for overview: www.intersafe.eu/en/contact/servicepoints.

More information can be read on the page Monitor glasses.

Laptop, tabletsand RSI

An ever-increasing number of people are using mobile devices such as tablets and laptops. This is particularly practical for people who travel a great deal, who have more than one workplace in the office or work at different sites, or attend many meetings. However, the use of laptops and tablets carries a greater risk of RSI. Below, you can find an overview of information on the correct use of laptops and tablets in order to prevent health complaints as far as possible.

Laptops

The use of laptops is discouraged because it results in an unfavourable posture that draws the head towards the screen, because of the low position of the screen. This puts strain on the head and neck. In addition, the small size of laptops leads to a more static body posture that is more likely to cause health complaints.

As such, laptops do not meet display screen workspace requirements as defined in the Working Conditions Act. There is, however, an alternative: using a laptop station. This allows the user to adjust the height of the laptop screen quickly and easily to any height desired, facilitating a suitable working posture. In combination with an external keyboard and an external mouse, it is possible to create a fully-fledged workstation (see photo below).

Tablets

Increasingly often, both employees and students are using tablets in addition to other devices such as laptops or desktops. Tablets are practical devices for paperless meetings, for example. It does, however, also have a number of disadvantages. Tablets are not comfortable or productive to use for a longer period of time, nor for writing substantial amounts of text. Leaning forward over the tablet places additional strain on the neck and shoulders, which can eventually lead to health problems.

To minimize physical health complaints caused by the use of tablets, it is important not to view or use a tablet as a replacement for a desktop or laptop (including laptop station).

However, a tablet can be used effectively for short-term activities, e.g. retrieving and reading information and (meeting-related) documents and making brief notes.

The following tips can help prevent health complaints:

  1. Place the tablet on a table. Never balance it on your lap or hold it in your hand (the tweezer grip);
  2. Buy a tablet holder or cover that can also function as a stand. This provides a better viewing angle and prevents severe craning of the neck;
  3. Do not work on a tablet too intensively or for too long. If you need to do a great deal of typing, use a computer that allows you to create an ergonomic workstation;
  4. Work in different places so that you vary your posture and movements; that way, you prevent strains.

more information

For more information about the use of tablets and laptops, please contact your faculty and/or department’s VGM coordinator. For questions about your working conditions you can initially contact your manager and the VGM coordinator of your faculty or department. In addition, as a UT member of staff you have free access to the working conditions consultation (AOS) of the HumanCapitalCare medical officer (the UT's working conditions service). The UT organizes various activities to help you gain a better overview of your lifestyle and improve it where necessary. Check the health and welfare activities on our website.