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When I'm at work: Using a computer - Learner's workbook


Getting started

The equipment

A typical computer workstation looks something like the picture below.

Diagram of Computer workstation

Activity: Your workstation

Identify each of these items at your workstation.

  1. Monitor (may also be called a 'screen')
  2. Keyboard
  3. Mouse
  4. Computer
  5. Printer

Before you start any work with computers you must ensure that you follow safe work practices. You must be comfortable when working at a computer and must always tell your supervisor if you feel you are in any pain or are feeling uncomfortable.

Not only for your comfort, but Australian law states that you have to be safe at work. Ergonomic requirements means how you use the computer equipment to ensure you are comfortable and safe whilst working.

Ergonomic is a term used to describe furniture and equipment that has been designed for comfort, efficiency and safety especially in the workplace.

Following is a list of areas around your workstation that you need to pay particular attention to.

This is vital for you to be able to do your work well. Your feet should be on the ground and your hands should be resting on the keyboard.

These should be checked and adjusted on a daily basis as some other person may sit at your chair and change the adjustments without you being aware.

You should not be looking up or down at your monitor (or screen), but it should be directly in front of you at eye level or slightly lower.

These should be placed to best suit you. The keyboard should be in front of you. The mouse should be on your right if you use your right hand or on your left if you mainly use your left hand.

Lighting should be strong and not cause any glare.

Checking your workstation diagram

Source: Stephens, A & Symons, J 2002, Develop and use spreadsheets, Tertiary Press, Victoria.

Try to get up for a few minutes every hour when using the computer. You may like to walk around or do some exercises to relieve any muscle strain. Some examples of stretching exercises are below.


Neck sample

Drop your head slowly first to the left, then to the right. Drop your chin to your chest, then raise it, letting your head drop back. Turn your head to the left, then to the right. Repeat two or three times.


Shoulders sample

With your elbows at your sides slowly roll your shoulders forward three or four times. Then roll them backwards three or four times.


Arms sample

Raise your arms straight out to the sides at shoulder level.

Rotate your arms forward in small circles three or four times. Then rotate them backwards three or four times.

Upper arms

Upper arms sample

Clasp your hands behind your back, locking your elbows. Raise your arms high, then let them drop. Repeat three or four times.


Wrists sample

Place your forearms and wrists flat on the desk. Keeping your wrists on the table, bend your hands and fingers back. Repeat three or four times.


Fingers sample

Place your hands palm down and spread your fingers into a fan. Count to five, then relax. Repeat three or four times.

Topic checklist

Tick the areas from this topic that you have successfully completed.

Topic checklist diagram

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