A resource for students of Community Education Lewisham, and a showcase of some of their published work. Copyright of all images exclusively retained by individual students of CEL.


Course Health & Safety Notes

Working with computers may not seem dangerous, but there are significant hazards.
Ignore the following guidelines at your own risk.

Now that computers are more powerful than ever, and operators no longer have to wait for their machines to process certain complicated operations, it is vital to remind yourself to STOP from time to time. Time spent away from the task is not wasted. Apart from keeping your body moving, helping your blood circulation to the brain and therefore helping you concentrate, it also gives you time to assess the progress of the job you are working on and gain some perspective.

The risk of lower back strain due to poor posture in inferior operator chairs is probably the greatest problem. All operators should ensure that chairs are of European safety standard, with adjustable heights with arms to support the wrist during extensive keyboard and mouse operations. In operation, the user should have a clear, slightly downward view of the computer monitor, with the arms of the chair supporting the hands above the keyboard or mouse. Feet should be supported in order to not constrict the flow of blood at the knees. Slouching or using an unsuitable chair will hinder concentration and WILL cause back problems which will threaten both health and income. Even if it is your grandfather’s bent-ash chair in which he used to dandle you on his knee, throw it on the bonfire before using it to work in.

Performing the same physical operation over and over again can cause Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). This is often associated with long periods of keyboard work using poor technique, or pressurised use of the mouse - again with little or no support for the arms. Joints and tendons may become inflamed, and, again, you may find yourself unable to work.

While working, always ensure that as much of your body is supported by the chair as possible. If you find yourself having to stretch or twist to perform operations such as using the mouse or striking keys, adapt your seating. Computer operation is not physical work, and you should be as relaxed as possible. The problem with this is that if you spend long periods doing nothing, you become extremely unfit. Injury or strain are not the only bad physical effects of long term computer use.

Care should also be taken to ensure that lighting in the workplace is suitable.
The use of flourescent tubes should be avoided in conjunction with computer monitors as they both ‘flicker’ and this can be irritating and can cause headaches, nausea and other problems. Tungsten lighting with daylight coloured bulbs are the better substitute for natural light.

Focusing for long periods at one plane will impair eyesight. Regular ‘focusing breaks’ should be taken during desk time in order to exercise the eye muscles. For this reason it is unwise to face a wall while working.
For correct colour perception, office walls should be painted in neutral shades. Bright, dark or intensely coloured paintwork will effect the way you see colours on screen.

Breathing the ozone produced by laser printers all day is not healthy. You may start getting headaches and nausea. Some people have experienced worse. Ensure a constant source of ventilation in your workroom.

Taking photographs in public places can be problematic. The nature of digital photography is such that published images are effectively permanent, as opposed to the ephemeral nature of newspapers or magazines. They are therefore more possessive of their images than in the past. They therefore require a correspondingly higher degree of respect from photographers, and a more co-operative approach than has been the norm.
The street is also a dangerous enough place for the unwary pedestrian. When taking photographs anywhere, beware any possible hazards.