Facts and figures
- 18 million workstations in Germany are VDU workstations
- The course for productivity is set by 60 to 80% from office workstations in producing companies – within the management, the development division, sales and marketing, the production planning, the finance or purchasing department and other administrative workstations.
- 80% of office costs are labour costs.
- 14-15% account for facility and property costs.
- 4-5% of the costs are accounted for equipment including office techniques.
- 1-2% of the total costs are furnishing costs.
- Nearly every fourth sick note is caused by musculoskeletal disorders
(Source: Annual reports of the statutory health insurance).
- 34,3% of employees in administrative jobs suffer, at least occasionally, from pain in the lower back (sacroiliac pain), 47,8% suffer from neck pain, 33,3% suffer from headaches and 28,3% suffer from irritated eyes or the red-eye effect.
(Source: Employee Survey 2006 of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BiBB)).
- German companies relinquish on up to 36% of the possible work performance from office work places because of badly chosen spatial and organizational requirements and because workstations do not match the ergonomic requirements.
(Source: Office-Excellence-Check of the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO).
VDU workstations and health
"More than two to four hours of working in front of a computer per day and an unfavourable design of the workstation are risk factors which can already lead to health problems,“ said the medical specialist for stress, Dr. Emil Pascarelli from New York. His research show: overload and false posture lead to nerve and muscle damage.
The risk factors
The biggest risk factors, following Prof. Dr. Dieter Lorenz, labour scientist at the faculty of social and culture science of the Gießen-Friedberg University of Applied Sciences, are:
- a wrong sitting posture of the user,
- a wrong gap and angle towards the screen,
- a bad screen resolution
- and lights reflecting on the screen.
Under such conditions, said Lorenz, the employee working at a VDU workstation will suffer „serious physical problems”. Thereby not only the computer is important, also the table, chairs and lightings have to be considered.
Serious damages after years
For Lorenz it is sure that of 86 million work-absent days per year, which are only caused by back pains, a big part can be traced back to badly designed VDU workstations. Many employers and their employees underestimate these dangers. Irritated eyes and headache do not arise when activating the computer, and disappear in the evening, furthermore: “Problems with the skeleton or nerves often arise after years”. Then it is usually too late to improve something by the aid of an ergonomic workstation.
Hints and information of how to design a workstation to avoid these long-term effects can be found under Sitting and Standing.
VDU work regulation
The most important basis of the design of ergonomic office workstations is the VDU work regulation, which prescribes every employer a “risk assessment” of the existing office workstations. This legal regulation, based on an EU-guideline, not only lists requirements for the screen, the keyboard, office desk and office chair but also for the environment: space requirement, lighting, reflections and blinding, noise, climate, radiations and humidity. Furthermore minimal requirements for the software are set.
Links and additional information
The precise content of the VDU work regulation can be found under www.gesetze-im-internet.de.
In the specialized journal "Office Check" a checklist can be found, with which you can validate the quality of your office workstations.
Under research and the keyword "Ergonomics" the results of an evaluation of the VDU work regulation from 2006 can be found.
A typical „office disease“ besides back pains and eye irritation is the Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), also called “mouse-arm”. Detailed information on this topic can be found under www.rsipain.com.