Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Technology and Learning - Journal 4 - Safety

I laugh when I think about when I was in undergraduate school I had an in-service training on the correct hand position of a pencil and scissors. I wonder if they even have concerns about that anymore in schools. Do kids even use pencils and scissors? Kidding of course! It is funny how fast the focus can shift and change. Before reading the information on computer safety, I was aware that there were precautions that could be taken to prevent carpal tunnel and to help with eye strain, but that was the extent of my knowledge of computer safety.

The first website I decided to read was from the US Department of Labor (http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/index.html). This was particularly interesting to me since I work as a contractor for one of their agencies. I was curious to see how closely our office follows its own recommendations. I found that the site had a great feature called an eTool. The eTool which helps you create a custom ergonomically correct set up at your workstation. There is a check list that spells out the correct positions for each body part in relation with the various parts of the workstation. This check list could also be used as a trouble shooting tool. If a certain area of your workstation is not lining up ergonomically with a certain body part, the check list provides a cross check list to check to make changes to other areas of your workstation and body positions to resolve the incorrect positions. This site also points out potentials hazards to using a computer for long periods of time and also lists potential symptoms that may mean that you are developing injuries from improper use and positions. The material also includes recommendation for lighting, ventilation and glare. So, how does our office stack up to its own advice? We are provided ergonomic keyboards and chairs with a variety of adjustments so users can find an ergonomically acceptable position at their workstation. Previously, when we had the older non flat screen monitors, we were provided with glare guards to slip over the monitors and of course the resource of the website if any additional questions arise. I would say that we are armed with the correct tools to achieve a safe working environment. Whether we act on it is a different story. I have to admit that my set up at work (and at home which equals laptop on the couch) would fail miserably on a safety test.
Of course in a school environment it is up to the teacher and technology coordinators to be the advocate for the children. This is why I chose to review the next site; Healthy Computing with kids (http://www.healthycomputing.com/kids/). I started reading the section on computer equipment for children. I was not aware that there were child sized keyboards and mice. That was very interesting. I think that this would be a good purchase for a school environment if there is extra money in the budget. There were also tips, much the same as the US DOL website, with safety tips on sitting ergonomically correct. Many of the tips were geared towards kids for example putting a pillow under the child’s bottom and behind their back if a child size chair is not available.

I found the section on backpacks especially interesting. There were good tips on choosing the right backpack from selecting one with larger straps to selecting one with wheels. One thing that I found a little far fetched was a suggestion that parents should purchase double text books for the kids so they do not have to carry their books back and forth to school. I am not sure when the author last purchased a text book, with the price of books these days, I find it a little out there.

There were some good tips in the gaming section of the website also. I laughed to myself because they did not include anything about a Wii control and knocking someone else or yourself out if you do not attach the safety strap that now comes standard with the Wii controls. One thing that I had never heard of in regards to gaming was the voice recognition software that you can use for gaming. The section even had suggestions on safety precautions for this product which included taking breaks to rest your voice. It just amazes me what is available to kids (big kids too like my husband who loves computer games) these days. I just have never gotten into video/computer games and frankly think that there is just too much out there. It makes my head spin. This also brings up the question as to how you keep up with what your kids are playing and doing on the internet, which is a whole other can of worms that I am investigating in another class.

HealthyComputing – Kids Section. Retrieved June 21, 2009 from website http://www.healthycomputing.com/kids/
United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration – Computer Workstation. Retrieved June 21, 2009 from website http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/index.html

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