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.
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).
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:
- Place the tablet on a table. Never balance it on your lap or hold it in your hand (the tweezer grip);
- 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;
- 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;
- Work in different places so that you vary your posture and movements; that way, you prevent strains.
For more information about the use of tablets and laptops, please contact your faculty and/or department’s VGM coordinator.