Portable computing and communication devices and their impact on workers' health

Portable computing and communication devices are widely used by workers in
different occupations and their use is steadily increasing.

Working with portable devices and systems differs markedly from the work with
visual display units at workstations which is regulated by the European visual
display units (VDU) Directive. While still regarded by many as 'executive
toys', these systems are increasingly used by salespersons, technical support
workers, delivery persons, and restaurant and maintenance staff.

A new report addresses the many challenges that the use of mobile devices poses
to OSH and gives recommendations for policy and practice. The sources of
information that have been reviewed and analysed are - survey results, sales
data, manufacturers' and service providers' information, published scientific
research, market research, data from national authorities, and expert opinions.

The study gives an overview of the technology and its use, the various types of
portable computing and communication systems, the tasks they are used for, and
the extent to which portable systems are used, the types of workers, and the
specific risks they may be exposed to.

It also addresses work organisational risks and highlights the need for the
user-centred design of mobile devices which are compatible with the cognitive
load during mobile work. Important stressors that were found are, for example,
the blurring of boundaries between work and family life, the extension of the
working day, difficulties in supervising mobile employees at work and the
feeling that mobile employees have of being insufficiently involved in company
decisions and having poorer career prospects.

More information - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work