Hunt for hidden danger in working with mice

February 5, 1999

Computer mouse users are being assessed for health problems in a two-year study by Loughborough and Surrey universities.

Researchers are to question 5,000 people on their use of non-keyboard devices, such as touch screens, mice and joysticks.

The study, funded by the Health and Safety Executive, aims to identify health risks and compile a code of good practice for employers and users.

Roger Haslam, head of Loughborough University's Health and Safety Ergonomics Unit, said: "The number of computer users is high and increasing. This study is important because it will give us a good feel for the problem."

Problems such as repetitive-strain injury, also known as work-related upper limb disorder, musculoskeletal pain and postural problems have long been associated with keyboard use and are well documented. But the health risks of alternative devices are not as well known.

"Our biggest problem is that we need to be able to separate the time spent using the mouse from the time spent using the keyboard. We are trying to target intensive users of touch screens or mice to give us more confidence in our results," said Dr Haslam.

The teams will conduct laboratory studies and workplace assessments, while focus groups will discuss alternative designs. Before drawing up a code "experts will test our recommendations to see where and how the advice will help", he added.

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