Health & Safety
Upper limb disorders
The following are umbrella terms covering all kinds of work-related injuries to the muscles, nerves, and tendons of the upper limbs.
In this section they will be referred to as:
VDU (Visual Display Unit),
ULD (Upper Limb Disorder),
RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)
OOS (Occupational Overuse Syndrome)
Work place assessments
It is a legal requirement for all 'VDU Users' to have a Work Place Assessment (pdf) for each workstation they use.
The assessment covers the machine itself and the immediate surroundings, such as the desk, and also takes into account the wider environment, such as lighting, and covers the user's job description and such things.
This needs to be repeated every time any of the factors changes.
A separate WPA (pdf) is required for each VDU.
The Departmental Policy is to go beyond the requirements of the Law, and undertakes full training and assessment for all members of the laboratory, which we think of as people allocated an office in the department.
For other users of VDUs in the department, such as those on taught courses, we endeavour to train them in the use of VDUs, but they do not require WPAs.
Self assessment form
The University publishes a booklet on VDU use, which all members of the
department should read. At the end of this is a 'Self Assessment' form.
This can be:
- filled out in the booklet itself
- photocopied from the booklet and completed
- a printed copy of the PDF, PS or Word self assessment document.
A campaign has started to ensure that we have copies (electronic or paper) of WPAs for all members of the department. If anyone has any problems completing the form, a member of the committee will be available to work though it, explaining the questions.
Training and prevention of RSI
First year Computer Science students (undergraduate or graduate)
receive a short lecture on RSI, its causes, and its prevention.
The handout for this lecture is available as a Postscript file, and most of it is also available as a couple of image files:
- Tips for computer users on how to avoid RSI
- How you should organise your workstation to avoid strain injuries and stress
There is a Safety Course for New Graduate Students which covers wider aspects of safety in the University.
The department will try to accommodate any people with disabilities, but we do ask that special needs are declared before someone comes to the Department.
In our department, the most likely risk are problems relating to VDU use. Although many kinds of work can bring on ULD symptoms, computer users are particularly at risk.
The following websites may be of interest:
- The Safety Office has a web page on VDU use including "Caring for your wrists".
- The RSI-UK web site has some useful information.
- The Typing Injury FAQ deals with frequently asked questions.
- The Assistive Technology team based within the Computing Service department has a website offering assistance on RSI, Speech Assisted Computing and device demonstrations covering various voice alternatives to keyboards and mice.
- The Disability Resource Centre normally has a range of devices which can be tried, as well as advice and specialist catalogues.
- In the absence of any University Guidelines, see Physics Code of Practice (pdf).
For more information on disability in general, visit: