Guidelines for Laptop Use, Safe Manual Handling and Back Pack Use

Many day to day activities put load on our joints and ligaments. Even light activities. Deep postural muscles protect our joints, but taking care with posture and ergonomics can reduce the chances of stressing these tissues. This brochure outlines some common activities and problem areas – giving you some ideas to help prevent undue load and possible injury and reduce pain.

Laptop Ergonomics

The fixed design of Laptops violates the major ergonomic principle of being able to arrange the different components specifically to suit the user.

Because the keyboard and monitor are fixed together there is a no win choice between poor neck/head posture and poor hand/wrist posture. This means when the keyboard is in the correct position for the user the monitor is not, if the monitor is optimal the keyboard isn’t.

Leading ergonomists agree incorrect Laptop use increases the risk of permanent damage to bones and muscles.

Anyone using a Laptop as their primary computer needs to ensure they are not hunched over in an awkward position and this requires external equipment.

Place your Laptop on a Laptop Stand or even Phone Books to a height that allows you to see the screen without bending your neck.

Connect a Mouse and Keyboard to your Laptop externally and place them on the work surface so that your hands and wrists are straight with your elbows by your side.

You will now be able to position Monitor, Key- board and Mouse as you would a normal desk- top in order to achieve the best working posture.

Back Pack Information

The following information will help you select an ergonomically safe back-pack and help prevent injuries that often occur with the use of this equipment.

  • Wider padded straps help distribute the load better, reducing stress in any one area.
  • Multiple compartments distribute the load and pre- vent the load from shifting.
  • Waist belts hold the pack against the body and help transfer the weight onto the hips rather than the shoulders.
  • A back pack that has additional padding in the area that rests against the back will fit more snugly and be more comfortable.
  • The maximum load should be no more that 10 – 15% of the carrier’s weight, particularly for a child or adolescent.
  • The heaviest flattest items should be placed in the back i.e. the area that touches the wearer’s back.
  • The pack should be positioned such that the centre is at waist or hip level, so as to minimise forward body tilt.


The correct packing method and wearing style can reduce the likelihood of injury.

Do not ignore pain: when the body’s warning signs ( pain) are ignored damage may occur and temporary damage may become permanent.

Safe Manual Handling

  • Keep weights and forces low by break- ing down the load and using trolleys. Position trolleys close to shelves the less distance to carry, the better.
  • Use the safe work zone between shoulders and mid thigh. Use a safety step to access higher items.
  • Use the strong position of your arms; keep your ‘wings in’. If you lead the movement with your hands and keep your el- bows pointing down, your elbows stay closer to your sides, and then your shoulders can work more efficiently with less chance of an injury.
  • Lead reaching movements with your hand.
  • Grip Item correctly. Power grip – This grip can be used for lifting heavier items or using hand tools: use the little and ring fingers for power when gripping – and the middle finger can assist as well. Fine control – When fine control is really necessary such as picking up small items or writing, use the thumb and index finger together, keeping the ring and little finger in your palm. Keep your elbow pointing down and at your side. (‘wings in’)
  • Lift correctly by bending at the hips, keeping the weight in your heels and moving your bottom backwards. This offers a different way of moving which focuses on keeping our body in alignment.
  • Move your feet to turn.
  • Brace your abdominals when manual handling to protect your lower back.