Visual display unit work

Knowledge work is part of the everyday duties of increasingly many workers, supervisors and managers. Knowledge work employs information and telecommunications technology in different work environments.

Unfavourable working conditions and long work stages in static positions may cause harmful physical strain.

Office work may involve harmful physical strain that usually results from unfavourable working conditions and long work stages in static working positions. Studies in recent years have found that desk work and sedentary habits are linked to morbidity. Environmental factors related to the work environment may include lighting, temperature, air quality and the placement of devices and furnishings.

When evaluating visual display unit work, attention must be paid not only to the working conditions but also to peripheral devices and the software in use, such as how well the devices are suited to different tasks and whether employees are proficient in their use. The development of technology and software and the associated requirement to continuously take on new information may cause harmful psychological strain. When operating in a virtual environment, it is important to evaluate employees’ sense of community and matters related to their interaction with each other.

The recommended minimum size of a workspace intended for one person is 10–12 square metres. In an open-plan space, each person should have 7–8 square metres of space. The appropriate size of a workspace does not increase in direct relation to the number of workers; instead, features such as passages are considered part of the working area. In addition to the size and aforementioned environmental factors, the impression employees have of the office space, its location and its pleasantness also impact their motivation and health. 

Reducing harm 

The ergonomics of visual display unit work are most effectively influenced at the workstation’s design phase. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires the employer to analyse and assess the hazards and risk factors affecting the health and safety of employees as a result of work. 

When analysing and assessing the hazards and risk factors of visual display unit work, possible harm caused to eyesight and adverse physical and psychological strain, in particular, must be taken into account. The employer must act on the basis of the analysis to ensure that the work does not cause a risk to health. 

The assessment of the health impacts of the work and working conditions are included in the workplace survey carried out by an expert of the occupational health care provider. It is important that the person performing the visual display unit work also actively participates in the development and improvement of their workstation.