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As you read this booklet, sit at your computer and take a good look at what you do there. You may be surprised to learn that some things you do every day may cause you pain or discomfort over time. Learn how to change your work habits! You can ease your symptoms and learn how to work pain free.

Job Tasks
Before you begin to look for risk factors, it is important to understand how your job tasks may contribute to your exposure to these risk factors. Ask yourself which tasks you perform simultaneously (at the same time). For computer users, simultaneous tasks are those tasks that are performed while keying, and include:

A. keying / mousing (generic term for using an external pointing device)
B. keying / mousing / writing
C. keying / mousing / writing / using the telephone
D. keying / mousing / writing / using the telephone / reading

When simultaneous and nonsimultaneous tasks are performed in awkward postures or with extended reaches, you increase your chances of developing an injury. If you perform simultaneous tasks, go to pages 19-25.

Workstation “Handedness”
Look at the direction of the work flow when performing simultaneous tasks. Generally, people are most comfortable when they work toward their dominant side. For example, if you are right-handed, your right hand is your dominant hand, and your right side is your dominant side. Does the “handedness” of your work station fit your hand dominance? In other words, does the design of the work station promote your work to flow toward your dominant hand? The “handedness” of the work station is determined by the location of the keyboard relative to the work area where other tasks are performed simultaneously with keying. When this work area (often the writing surface) is to the left of the keyboard, it is said to be a left-handed work station, and vice versa. A right-handed employee who sits at a left-handed work station will twist, turn, and reach to get to the work area to his/her left. The “handedness” of the work station is not always a concern, as in the case when only one task is performed there (e.g. keying only). To learn more ways to make the work station fit your handedness, go to pages 22-25.

Left-handed workstation
 Right-handed workstation
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Department of Industrial Relations   Cal/OSHA Consultation Service   Research and Education Unit