Monday, February 20, 2006

How computers kill people: Part 1

Your country and company love you. The computer is your friend.

Healthy Computing:
Risks and Remedies
Every Computer User Needs to Know

by Dr. Ronald Harwin & Colin Haynes
Amacom (American Management Association)

p. 48-52


Computer users are vulnerable to localized inflammatory or swelling of the tissues...because keyboards, mice, and trackballs encourage us to have bad working habits and to misuse the delicate structures of the arm, wrist, and hand.

The micro-trauma that results from this misuse is called repetitive stress injury or cumulative trauma disorder, which is the accumulation of micro-injuries....The surgical method...obtains only limited and temporary relief.

Myths and misconceptions about repetitive stress injury and carpal tunnel syndrome abound. The business community and federal and state government agencies still tend to dismiss it as not having great significance.

...skeptics claim that there has been a form of epidemic hysteria, in which psychological factors in the group of workers are transferred into shared physical symptoms. The outbreak also may be blamed on "compensationitis", with the suggestion that the computer workers are faking or aggravating their pain to seek financial compensation.

In the United States, the evidence required to confirm a diagnosis of RSI (repetitive stress injury) may be onerous and expensive to obtain. There are actually very powerful forces at work in this country to suppress the identification and quantification of RSI.

Even at the Social Security Administration headquarters near Baltimore, computer operators diagnosed with RSI have waited years while their cases were documented and evaluated. Some even had carpal tunnel surgery while they were waiting.

Since the 1970s, the U.S. Postal Service has resisted accepting that keyboard operation of letter sorting machines causes RSI.

The Reagan administration's cutbacks to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) made it even more difficult during the 1980s to assemble the information we now so desperately need.


Join the chorus.


"My country tis of thee
sweet land of infamy,
of thee I sing.

Land of the business pride
the sexist racist slide
from every mountain side
let Enron fling."

Wompers Beelzebub, it shore is wunnerful bein' an Amerikan.

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