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Ergonomic Tips: Physical Environment

1. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the comfort condition of air in the facility. IAQ is a function of air temperature, humidity, cleanliness (pollutants in the air) and air distribution (circulation).

2. Some of the common sources of indoor air pollution include tobacco smoke, biological organisms, building materials and furnishings, cleaning agents, copy machine materials, and pesticides.

3. Some of the symptoms associated with inadequate IAQ include dry mucous membranes, headaches, dry or itchy skin, dizziness and nausea, eye/ear/throat irritation. But please note that these symptoms can originate outside the building as well as inside the building.

4. Bring in plants to improve the air quality around the office. Plants minimize the accumulation of carbon dioxide.

5. NASA has recommended the following plants to improve IAQ: thin-leafed spider plant, Chinese evergreen, peace lily, philodendrons, golden pothos, ficus, mother-in- law's tongue, and English ivy.

6. To improve air quality in the facility, avoid hampering air distribution. Do not place furniture or personal articles in positions where they block ventilation registers.

7. To improve air quality in the facility, always remember to properly store adhesives, solvents, and any other potential air-borne contaminants. Store items like these in a well-ventilated area.

8. To improve air quality in the facility, stay home when you are sick (don't share your germs with your co-workers).

9. Sometimes we feel the air is too dry in the office. If this is the case, ask your supervisor if you can bring in a humidifier for your workstation, or see if the company will provide one.

10. There is a lot of concern over "radiation" (electromagnetic fields) emitted from computers. Fortunately, most research suggests that computers emit radiation at levels so small that it does not present any health risk to users.

11. Do computers emit radiation? Yes, just like TV's and dishwashers and hairdryers emit radiation. The type of radiation emitted from computers is non-ionizing radiation, which has not traditionally been linked to adverse health effects as has ionizing radiation (X-rays, etc.)

12. To minimize exposure to radiation at your computer, select a monitor with a low EMF (electromagnetic field) rating. The monitor should say that it meets MPR-II, 1990.

13. To minimize exposure to radiation at your computer, do not sit too close to the monitor. Avoid a work area layout where you are seated close to the rear or sides of a monitor (yours or a co-worker's).

14. Keep about 19" between you and the rear or side of the nearest adjacent computer to minimize radiation exposure. Keep at least 18" between yourself and the viewing screen (for viewing reasons, not radiation reasons).

15. To minimize exposure to radiation at your computer, install an anti-static filter on the monitor to reduce electric and electrostatic fields.

16. To minimize exposure to radiation at your computer, install a metallic alloy strip around the sides of the monitor.

17. It is almost impossible to please everyone in the company when it comes to temperature. However, most people are most comfortable when the temperature is between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (maybe a little warmer in the summer).

18. If you feel uncomfortably hot or cold, ask your supervisor if you can bring in a space heater or fan, or if the company will provide one.

19. If you sit near an air vent and you feel uncomfortably hot or cold, see if you can move (the solution is NOT to block the vent).

20. Drink plenty of fluids during the day to minimize the effects of a "hot" working environment. Water is about the best fluid in terms of quick hydration of the body. As a general rule try to drink at least 8 cups of water during the day.

21. Keep water at your desk so you can take a drink whenever you feel like it.

22. Avoid heavy caffeine intake under "hot" working conditions.

23. Remember that the first symptom of dehydration is fatigue, not thirst.

Ergonomic Tips:  Introduction
Ergonomic Tips:  For Office Workers
Ergonomic Tips:  Workstation
Ergonomic Tips:  Physical Environment
Ergonomic Tips:  Psychosocial
Ergonomic Tips:  Materials Handling
Ergonomic Tips:  Vision & Monitors
Ergonomic Tips:  Personal Risk Factors

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