Tuesday, 32nd February 1997
09.00 am - 10.30 am

University of Glasgow



(Answer both questions.)

1.(a) Briefly describe the differences between physiology and perception.

[6 marks, Seen problem]
Perception relates to the physical senses. The term is used to describe the way in which information is received from external stimuli in the environment. Physiology refers to the physical profile of the user's body. Average height, weight, reach are all important physiological characteristics.

(b) What is RSI and why is it an increasing problem for computer users?

[10 marks, Bookwork, seen problem]
RSI or repetitive stress injury is an increasing problem for computer users because it is the result of sustained stress on the human body. VDU use places considerable stress upon individual users. The human body has not been adapted to sustain these pressures over prolonged periods. For example, neck and back pains can result from prolonged periods spent at a monitor. Wrist pains, carpal tunnel syndrome, can result from prolonged keyboard use. These problems have increased because many users are ignorant of the preventative measures that can be taken, such as regular breaks and good posture. These problems have also increased because more and more people are spending more of their working lives behind a keyboard.

(c) Briefly describe the links between high staff turnover, poor working conditions, Health and Safety legislation and problems such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

[10 marks, Unseen problem]
Current scientific evidence, and the HSE guidelines, suggests that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome does exist and should be taken seriously by employers. Poor working environments can lead to high levels of staff turnover. One of the symptoms of poor working conditions is an ignorance about health and safety legislation. If this legislation is not followed then staff may be lost through problems such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Good employment practices, as advocated by bodies such as the HSE, include education in the measures that can be taken against RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In any event, one side-effect of not providing this advice may be the considerable financial penalties that can be incurred when key staff suffer from either of these problems. EC legislation in the form of the 'six pack' of health and safety regulations also requires employers to actively inform their staff about the dangers of VDU use.

(d) The Johnson Corporation have been asked to perform what is called a 'human reliability assessment' of a well known company's IT department. As a result of this study they have decided to produce a leaflet which can be given to employees to show them what a good typing posture should look like. Your task is to draw up a first version of this leaflet. Marks will be awarded for diagrams indicating both good and bad posture.

[24 marks, Unseen problem]
The key things that I'll be looking for will include support for the back. The legs should be given ample room and a foot rest may be used. The thighs must clear the desk. The position of the monitor should ideally be 15 degrees below the horizontal but should certainly not place undue pressure upon the user's neck. Wrists should be held above the keyboard and a wrist 'rest' might be provided - although this should not be used as a 'rest'. Document holders might also be shown to indicate support for secondary tasks.