Studying and Student life

Workplace settings and RSI

This information is about adjusting work stations and preventing RSI for staff members and students.

Working with computers can lead to various health-related problems, such as eye trouble, headache, pain in the neck and shoulders, arms, or hands. This brochure tells you how such problems can be prevented by optimally adjusting your workstation.

What is RSI or CANS?

RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) is the name for problems that can arise when you work in the same position or make repetitive movements for long periods at a time. Problems concern the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands. Symptoms include pain, fatigue, irritation of muscles and tendons, a tingling or numb feeling, or loss of strength. Anyone who regularly works at a screen can contract RSI. Today still speaks little of RSI. It is called now CANS, what means: complaints of arms, neck and shoulders, which are not caused by trauma or acutely with no underlying systemic disease. CANS is divided into specific and non-specific CANS.

How does RSI Arise?

Screen work is light, static work. This means that, in this kind of work, the muscles are constantly slightly tightened. Research has shown that the blood circulation in the muscles can be reduced by up to 80%. This can cause waste products to accumulate, which then starts irritating the tissues. This causes pain, which results in more muscle tension.

This constant irritation of the tissues results in damage to the connective tissue. Since it takes connective tissue 6 to 9 months to regenerate, recovery can take a long time.

Stress plays an important role in the development and worsening of the problems because it causes an increase in the muscle tension of the neck, shoulders, and arms.

Three phases are usually distinguished in RSI.

  • In phase I, symptoms are mostly vague and can still be easily treated. Complaints occur during or just after work. The pain is felt in a particular spot: as yet, it has not spread. The complaints disappear after an evening or a weekend.

  • Phase II is characterized by severe pain, which occurs not only during work but also when other movements are made. You start avoiding certain movements and the symptoms no longer disappear after an evening or weekend's rest.

  • Phase III: you suffer constant pain that does not go away. Work is no longer possible. You have little strength left in your hands or arms.

How to Prevent RSI

  • Ensure a good position in your attitude and change posture regularly
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Alternate work on the computer with other work.
  • Take a ten-minute break after every hour of work on the computer.
  • Limit work on the computer to no longer than 5 or 6 hours per day.
  • Take symptoms seriously. Initial complaints (pain, tingling, a stiff or numb feeling) can soon become serious.

Desk and Chair

  • To bring the seat height for you. To ensure that the seat and the seat near the bottom of your kneecap is, horizontal thigh when you sit.
  • Between seat and knee have at least 3 fingers and a thumb up space can.
  • Go back as far as possible and take your seat at the lumbar level with the holling in your back, so that support in the lumbar region .
  • The armrests should be adjustable, make sure the pads support the elbows slightly when the upper and lower arm make an angle of 90°. In this position the shoulders remain relaxed.
  • The seat and the back of the chair must be adjustable.
  • The chair must be safe and stable and have casters wheels.
  • When the desk height adjustable, it is recommended the worksheet on a level to set as your armrests. The right working height is achieved when you can rest your elbows on the desk with drooping shoulders. Pay attention to the combination of desk height and chair height. Sometimes a footrest is necessary to achieve the perfect combination.
  • The work desk must be a minimum of 120 cms wide and 80 cms deep. The desk must have a matt and lightly coloured surface.
  • In addition, sufficient space for the legs required (no trash or loading block under the desk).
  • Always sit right in front of your screen and keyboard.
Human Resources: Stoel bureau scherm instellingen

Computer Screen, Keyboard, and Mouse

  • Do not sit too close to the screen. The eyes are less burdened by the following distance: 17 inch displays: distance between 60-70 cm, 19 and 21 inch displays: distance between 60-80 cm.
  • Place the screen in such a way that no light falls on it from above. You can check this by switching the screen off.
  • Place the screen at a 900, angle to the window. This reduces the risk of reflection and contrast to large differences occur. This prevents eyestrain.
  • Place the monitor preferably 2 to 3 meter from the wall.
  • Place the screen at eye level (top point line at eye level).
  • Adjust brightness and contrast when the lighting in your room changes.
  • Adjust the settings on the computer so that you have dark letters on a light background and that the frequency (refresh rate) of your monitor is at least 70 Hertz. This prevents headache and eye strain.
  • Make sure the keyboard cannot move during typing.
  • Allow your underarms to rest on the desk.
  • Adequate space for the keyboard (7 cm) at idle moments at the opportunity to have the wrists resting on the worksheet.
  • Place the keyboard here in the lowest position (legs collapse, provided he already has a slight slope)
    Operate the mouse from your forearm, not from your wrist, avoiding lateral hand movements. Make sure the mouse speed is not too high and give the mouse the area.
  • Use function- or hotkeys rather than the mouse.
  • Make use of the ergonomic software (the screen work tachograph) that tells you when to take a break.
  • On the university web site, you will find information on how to install the tachograph, on mouse and refresh rate adjustment, and on the use of function keys instead of the mouse.
  • Relax your muscles regularly. The ergonomic software contains a number of relaxation exercises. Do them whenever you like or after receiving a warning from the tachograph.

Tools: Document Holder and Computer Glasses

  • With a document holder, you spare your neck and eyes. The document holder is especially suitable when you have a lot of retyping to do (preferably one that you can place between the keyboard and screen).
  • Special computer glasses are recommended for people whose reading glasses are inadequate for screen work. See our policy for computer glasses.


For frequent use of a laptop are basically the same rules as for a PC. There are drawbacks to working with a laptop. It is difficult to adopt an optimum posture by the design of the device. The use of laptop without the right tools is limited to 2 hours per day. Is> 2 hours working with a laptop then you use the right tools. Laptop users can use a standard laptop, with a separate keyboard and mouse. The loose keyboard and loose mouse creates a more relaxed posture.

Further Information

If you have any questions about the arrangement of your work station, please ask Anita Mosterd, Health and Safety and Environment officer TiU, for information.

If you have RSI symptoms, please contact your general practitioner. Staff members can also contact the company doctor.