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Working with laptops
Some additional points to consider when setting up your workstation involving portable computers:
¨ Set up the portable on a suitable worksurface wherever possible, and avoid use for extended periods in other situations. For example resting a portable on the user’s lap is not only likely to induce a poor working posture but could result in discomfort due to the heat generated by the computer.
¨ Use docking stations or similar equipment at workstations where portable computers will be in lengthy or repeated use.
¨ Minimise the use of portable computers in non-ideal locations such as motor vehicles.
Ensure that handheld computers for prolonged use are carefully selected for ergonomic features which match the requirements of the tasks undertaken. For example equipment to be used outdoors should be adequately waterproof, legible in bright sunlight, and keyboards and screens should be large enough to be used comfortably.
Docking stations are a way to avoid many of the ergonomic disadvantages of portables by allowing the use of a full-sized screen and/or keyboard (and mouse or other peripherals). Designs vary: some resemble a full-sized PC with a slot for the portable to be inserted; others comprise a screen, keyboard, mouse and/or other peripherals connected to the portable by cables and wireless links.
There are also systems that provide a full-sized keyboard plus raiser blocks to enable the portable’s own screen to be viewed at a more convenient height. Height-adjustable stands for notebook computers are also available.
In setting up any kind of docking station, the aim is for the user to achieve a comfortable working position allowing some variation in posture and having sufficient space for documents and anything else needed for their work tasks. The advice on setting up your workstation should be followed, treating the docking station in the same way as full-sized DSE.
When out and about with your portable computer you may find the following information useful:
¨ Take sensible precautions such as not carrying portables in luggage with a computer manufacturer’s branding; not leaving or using a portable in a parked car; and taking extra care in public places, or in other situations (or at times) where the risk of theft may be greater.
¨ Avoid carrying equipment or papers unless they are really likely to be needed.
¨ Consider using a backpack to cut down strain on arms and distribute loads evenly across the body (or wheeled luggage might be worth considering).
¨ Remember you may be able to avoid carrying heavy papers by sending them in advance, by post or e-mail, to your destination, or storing them electronically on the portable or on a disk.
When not using a docking station
Breaks or changes of activity are particularly important for portable users not working at a docking station. Such users need longer and more frequent breaks or changes of activity to compensate for poorer working environments, which can impact particularly on posture.
© Michael Twiss of MTA
Information provided by leading ergonomist Michael Twiss, MTA
Please contact us to get in touch with Michael and the MTA team.