Thousands of people in Illinois spend their workdays staring at computer screens as they enter data for hours on end. You might not realize the adverse impact your job can have on your health. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the health problems in this industry can cause permanent harm if data entry operators are unaware of potential dangers.
If your job involves continuous, intense data entry work on a computer for prolonged periods, taking frequents breaks is essential. Even if your breaks last only five or 10 minutes, you should get up and move about or do other tasks that take you away from your chair and the computer screen. Some of the potential health consequences can be severe enough to cause temporary disabilities.
The most significant risk of your job is eye damage. Spending extended hours looking at the computer screen can cause blurred vision or double vision, and your eyes can become burning and tearing. You could become fatigued, or develop frequent or chronic headaches, and it might lead to the need for prescription eyeglasses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the electromagnetic emissions from the computer screen could play a role in the development of glaucoma and cataracts.
Your keyboard can be a biological hazard
Did you know that your computer keyboard and mouse could hide more than 400 types of germs if you do not disinfect it frequently? Safety authorities say the most prevalent biological and viral hazards living in your equipment include cold, flu and norovirus. The CDC was able to link a 2007 outbreak of norovirus in Washington D.C., which affected more than 100 people, to computer equipment.
If data entry makes up the majority of your workload, significant job stress could develop. The standardized, consistent and repetitive aspects of your occupation cause emotional stress. Another contributor is the lack of interaction with other people while you stare at the computer screen throughout your shift.
Musculoskeletal disorder risks
Along with muscle fatigue, and back and shoulder pain from remaining seated for extended hours, you are at risk of developing the following repetitive motion disorders:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: The median nerve that runs from your arm to your hand travels through the carpal tunnel, which is the passage formed by the bones in your wrist. Your job requires the repetitive use of your hand and wrist, causing the median nerve to swell and excruciating pressure in your wrist.
- Tenosynovitis: When the muscle and nerve sheaths through which the finger tendons pass become inflamed from repetitive motion, tenosynovitis develops. It causes severe pain in the back of the hand and the wrist.
Both these disorders start with numbness, burning and tingling in the fingers, wrists and hands. If you work without adequate arm and wrist support, the repetitive motion disorders could spread to other muscles over time, causing weakness and chronic pain.
Does workers’ compensation cover these conditions?
While none of these conditions are life-threatening, they can all affect your ability to work and earn an income. Because most of these develop over time, the conditions can be severe before you seek medical care. When you do, you might find comfort in knowing that the Illinois workers’ compensation insurance program will have your back. Proving your condition to be work-related might be challenging, but an attorney with experience in fighting for the rights of injured employers can assist.