Do you ever stop and think how much time you spend using your mouse when you are operating your computer? It might surprise you but studies have shown that it can be anywhere from 30 to 80% of the time.
Now that’s an awful lot of potential for repetitive motion, awkward posture and sustained muscle contractions, particularly if you are using a poorly selected or designed mouse. Some of you may have already experienced issues in your fingers, hand, wrist, elbow or shoulder due to the amount of time spent using your mouse. These issues may have required you to seek medical attention to help manage the symptoms or injury that can result.
There are several ways that you can help reduce the negative effects of using computer mice when working from your dedicated workstation. These principles work hand-in-hand with other ergonomic advice to ensure that you are not exposed to unnecessary risk of injury at the workplace:
- The computer mouse should be kept at the same height and as close to the keyboard as possible. You want to adopt a relaxed shoulder position with a comfortable bend at the elbow and avoid an overly externally rotated arm or overreaching to hold the mouse
- The mouse should fit the individual hand comfortably – select the appropriate sized item to help reduce pressure and strain on the hand and fingers
- Consider rotating mouse use between upper limbs and use the non-dominant hand to help vary the load more evenly – a wireless computer mouse can make this easier
- Adjust the settings of the mouse such as the cursor speed or scroll wheel action to suit the individual as well as the tasks being performed
- When not using the mouse or keyboard rest your arms away from these items to help reduce muscle fatigue
- Take frequent regular breaks from computer operation by performing tasks that do not involve a computer mouse
- Familiarise yourself with keyboard shortcuts to help decrease the amount of computer mouse use required.
If you are experiencing problems with your upper limbs associated with operation of a computer mouse there are several ergonomic mouse or other input device options available within the marketplace. These range from mice with altered hand orientation (“vertical”) to trackball, trackpad or tablet-style input devices.
Please seek the advice of an experienced Workplace Ergonomic Assessor for guidance in selecting the most suitable item for you.