High School are experiencing an ergonomic nightmare, plaguing students and staff

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Photo Credit: Nick Davila

These workspaces are a health risk for musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome. Headaches and migraines can also be attributed to poor ergonomic of computers.

By: Nick Davila, Reporter

Underneath the shroud of the COVID-19 pandemic, high schools also experiencing another pandemic of poorly optimized workspaces, which could potentially lead to student & teacher discomfort and thus a drop in performance. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, has a set of ergonomic guidelines that describe how a workspace should be designed for maximum safety & comfort. A review of the current design of school desks & chairs shows that they do not fully comply with these guidelines with the laptops. For example, a computer monitor should be at or just below eye level. The laptops are far below eye level, meaning that if a student wants to sit up straight, they are risking eye damage due to the distance from the monitor. If they lean in, they risk damaging their eyes and their backs/necks. 

Colonia High nurse, Ms. Beebe, expressed her concern for students, stating that she is “concerned about students’ wrists and necks in the long run.” When asked about stands for these desks, her response was that “it would be costly, but it should be a standard.” 

A glaring issue that lets this thrive is students not reporting or ignoring discomfort in these areas. Beebe has reported that she had not received many reports of pains or discomfort, and this may be due to students writing it off as simply soreness. RSI is usually developing whilst this “soreness” is present, and can cripple students.

What Is RSI?

RSI stands for Repetitive Strain Injury, and it is something that has become a pandemic of its own. The onset of COVID and people working on computers much more is to blame for this. The reason this is a concern is that it can cause crippling pain & overall lower productivity by a large amount. Prolonged strain of the wrists is the leading cause of RSI. This in turn causes inflammation of the carpal tunnel pinches the median nerve, causing great pain. This condition lasts a long time, and can put a great damper on life due to this discomfort.  

What Can We Do To Help?

The only way to stop this pandemic is to realize that it is indeed an issue. Transparency is the system’s greatest tool against an unknown threat, and if gone unnoticed this can wreak havoc on students & staff for years to come. Students should be educated on when to ask for help and what to do if the occasion arises in which students need assistance. With a combined effort, high schools could eradicate this unknown pandemic and ensure comfort for years to come.