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Top tips and tricks for ergonomics at work

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Asus South Africa recently spoke to industry experts to share some practical ergonomic tips and tricks for computer users.

We all know that we have to sit properly, a certain distance from a screen and type at a specific angle. It sometimes seems impossible to have an ergonomic workstation due to space and financial restrictions. However, by adapting to your environment and making changes you will realise the effect it can have on your life. After all, you probably spend more time in your office than out of it.

Asus South Africa decided to get the insights of industry experts to share some practical tips and tricks for computer users:

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Eyes and View-Points
First and foremost, if you wear glasses or have glasses to wear behind a computer screen, wear them! Often we sit behind our screens for long periods of time causing us to blink less which leads too dry, itchy and scratchy eyes that feel like raisins.

Try to position yourself between 40 and 76 centimetres away from your screen (most users find it most comfortable to sit between 50 and 65 centimetres). Among many things this will help your eyes maintain their blink rate.

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When positioning the monitor or screen, set it up on your eye level or slightly below your horizontal eye level. This can be done by purchasing an ergonomic stand. Alternatively, you could improvise and use phone books or reams of paper. Just make sure that the surface is stable and strong enough.

Pay special attention to the surrounding areas of your monitor or table, avoid spaces closes to windows and bright lights as this may cause distracting reflections and additional strain on your eyes.

“Not only are we more dependent on electronic devices but technology can also improve your quality in front of such a device. Anti-reflective lens coatings have been tried and tested and research shows that it can help to eliminate up to 80% of eyestrain and fatigue. Optometrists make use of the newest lens technology to ensure clear and comfortable vision in front of electronic devices”, says Carina Janzen, Optometrist from De Jongh Optometry in Pretoria East.

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Seating and Posture
The chair that you sit on is just as important as the computer you use. When purchasing a new chair, always make sure that it is fully adjustable to ensure the support that you require. “It is important that the chair is the correct height relative to the desk”, comments Tracey Palay from Ergotherapy. If purchasing a new chair is not an option, you could look at using an inflatable pillow or a towel roll which should provide you with lower back support when placed behind your lower back against the chair.

Position yourself behind your computer in such a way that your spine is able to align with a neutral posture (forward curve in the lower back and forward tilted pelvis), try to avoid leaning forward. Allow your shoulders to be relaxed and not hunched or rounded and your feet resting on the floor/ foot rest. Your elbows have to be close to your body (put away your wings), the ideal position for them is at a 90° bent angle with your wrists and hands remaining straight, forearms resting on the table (not the wrists). Avoid bending the wrists backwards too far when working on your keyboard and mouse.

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It is important to consider your posture, as your body adapts to the position you spend your working day in and can have an effect on your wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, upper back, lower back, gluteal area and lower limbs. Frequent positional changes are key to prevent adverse health effects and muscular weakness.

The therapists from Therapy In Action have been working in the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy industry for over 20 years and recommend that computer users pay special attention to the position of their upper back and neck, as poor posture can lead to trigger points, muscle imbalances and lack of stability, which can cause headaches, neck and shoulder pain. “We have noticed over the past year alone an increase of 8% in people complaining about neck tension headaches and upper back pain due to poor ergonomics”, Liezet Basson, Partner and Senior Occupational Therapist with Therapy in Action added.

Sitting vs Standing
“Recent studies have shown that standing while working on your computer, have major health benefits. Standing facilitates a decrease in fatigue and musculoskeletal discomfort, especially in overweight office workers. The research has also shown benefits in heart function and blood sugar levels. Weakness and muscle imbalances develop according to your prolonged preferred postures, which can lead to discomfort and pain due to lack of optimal stability. Standing for the entire work day might also have some negative effects on your health, thus a healthy balance between sitting and standing is ideal where possible”, added Therapy In Action.

Regular Breaks
It is recommended that breaks are taken every 30 minutes but sometimes it isn’t practical. Try to take your eyes off of the screen and let them rest on another focal point in the distance, like a watercooler in the office or the trees outside your window. If you’re able to get up from your desk try to walk around stretching you back, arms, neck, shoulders and legs at least once every hour or two as this will get the blood flowing again.

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As with almost all aspects in life, there are various Apps that can be downloaded to remind you to take regular breaks. On Android there are a few apps like Take-a-Break or Water Drink Reminder.

Setting up an ergonomically friendly workspace is of benefit to the employee and employer, by reducing ergonomic risk factors costs can be reduced over time and employee productivity should increase. This will also show employees that their employers value their health and safety.

Yolandi Venter, ASUS’ Marketing Manager for System Products focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa, said that ASUS has a variety of products available which accommodate ergonomic needs. “Recently ASUS announced the ZenBook Flip UX360 and UX560 which feature a gently backlit keyboard with full size keys and long key travel for comfortable typing in any lighting condition. The large glass-coated touch pad allows smooth and accurate navigation”, Venter added.

“All of our models come with some sort of ergonomic design. For example, all models come standard with ICeCool which keeps the palm rest of laptops and notebooks cooler than your body temperature”, said Werner Joubert, Product Head (ACZA). “ASUS Monitors come standard with Eye Care technology which smartly adjusts the computer screen brightness based on the environment you are in. These monitors are designed to prevent symptoms of CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome). Symptoms include Headaches, Burning Eyes, Red Eyes, Eyes Strain and Fatigue, should you, a colleague or an employee have these symptoms its highly recommend to seek medical attention. Furthermore, the Monitors have Low Blue Light, are Flicker-Free, have Anti-Glare and are designed to meet ergonomic requirements”, Joubert added.

Asus South Africa would like to thank De Jongh Optometry, Therapy In Action and Ergotherapy for assisting in the construction of this story.

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Legion gets a pro makeover

Lenovo’s latest Legion gaming laptop, the Y530, pulls out all the stops to deliver a sleek looking computer at a lower price point, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Gaming laptops have become synonymous with thick bodies, loud fans, and rainbow lights. Lenovo’s latest gaming laptop is here to change that.

The unit we reviewed housed an Intel Core i7-8750H, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. It featured dual storage, one bay fitted with a Samsung 256GB NVMe SSD and the other with a 1TB HDD.

The latest addition to the Legion lineup has become far more professional-looking, compared to the previous generation Y520. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the gaming laptop market and appeals to those who want to use a single device for work and play. Instead of sporting flashy colours, Lenovo has opted for an all-black computer body and a monochromatic, white light scheme. 

The laptop features an all-metal body with sharp edges and comes in at just under 24mm thick. Lenovo opted to make the Y530’s screen lid a little shorter than the bottom half of the laptop, which allowed for more goodies to be packed in the unit while still keeping it thin. The lid of the laptop features Legion branding that’s subtly engraved in the metal and aligned to the side. It also features a white light in the O of Legion that glows when the computer is in use.

The extra bit of the laptop body facilitates better cooling. Lenovo has upgraded its Legion fan system from the previous generation. For passive cooling, a type of cooling that relies on the body’s build instead of the fans, it handles regular office use without starting up the fans. A gaming laptop with good passive cooling is rare to find and Lenovo has shown that it can be achieved with a good build.

The internal fans start when gaming, as one would expect. They are about as loud as other gaming laptops, but this won’t be a problem for gamers who use headsets.

Click here to read about the screen quality, and how it performs in-game.

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Serious about security? Time to talk ISO 20000

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By EDWARD CARBUTT, executive director at Marval Africa

The looming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) have brought information security to the fore for many organisations. This in addition to the ISO 27001 standard that needs to be adhered to in order to assist the protection of information has caused organisations to scramble and ensure their information security measures are in line with regulatory requirements.

However, few businesses know or realise that if they are already ISO 20000 certified and follow Information Technology Infrastructure Library’s (ITIL) best practices they are effectively positioning themselves with other regulatory standards such as ISO 27001. In doing so, organisations are able to decrease the effort and time taken to adhere to the policies of this security standard.

ISO 20000, ITSM and ITIL – Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM) and reflects a business’s ability to adhere to best practice guidelines contained within the ITIL frameworks. 

ISO 20000 is process-based, it tackles many of the same topics as ISO 27001, such as incident management, problem management, change control and risk management. It’s therefore clear that if security forms part of ITSM’s outcomes, it should already be taken care of… So, why aren’t more businesses looking towards ISO 20000 to assist them in becoming ISO 27001 compliant?

The link to information security compliance

Information security management is a process that runs across the ITIL service life cycle interacting with all other processes in the framework. It is one of the key aspects of the ‘warranty of the service’, managed within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The focus is ensuring that the quality of services produces the desired business value.

So, how are these standards different?

Even though ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 have many similarities and elements in common, there are still many differences. Organisations should take cognisance that ISO 20000 considers risk as one of the building elements of ITSM, but the standard is still service-based. Conversely, ISO 27001 is completely risk management-based and has risk management at its foundation whereas ISO 20000 encompasses much more

Why ISO 20000?

Organisations should ask themselves how they will derive value from ISO 20000. In Short, the ISO 20000 certification gives ITIL ‘teeth’. ITIL is not prescriptive, it is difficult to maintain momentum without adequate governance controls, however – ISO 20000 is.  ITIL does not insist on continual service improvement – ISO 20000 does. In addition, ITIL does not insist on evidence to prove quality and progress – ISO 20000 does.  ITIL is not being demanded by business – governance controls, auditability & agility are. This certification verifies an organisation’s ability to deliver ITSM within ITIL standards.

Ensuring ISO 20000 compliance provides peace of mind and shortens the journey to achieving other certifications, such as ISO 27001 compliance.

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