Personal Protective Equipment

Ergonomics: Vibrating Mice and Other Tales

Ergonomics is fitting the job to the way the body works. Here are some nifty new devices for doing it.

Does your computer mouse vibrate? Does the seat of your chair ebb and flow beneath you like the waves of the sea? Have you worked a computer with your feet today? And how are you dealing with CVS (And we don’t mean the drugstore chain!)

All these are valid questions when dealing with issues of ergonomics, and all may be solutions to ergonomic problems. Let us explain:

Here at Advisor, we’re always on the lookout for innovative solutions to safety issues. Recently we’ve found several of note, which we’d like to brief you on today. We are not in a position to endorse any, but you may want to look into them on your own.

Can your managers and supervisors detect the causes of 25 different real-life accidents, each in a different safety area, direct from OSHA records? Find out, and have them learn hazard analysis while they’re at it with BLR’s OSHA Accident Case Studies program. There is a separate PowerPoint for each case. Try it at no cost and no risk. Click for info.

The wave action chair and the vibrating mouse come from the fertile minds of the Cornell [University] Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group (CHFERG). The chair comes from the notion that, no matter how good your current chair is, your weight always rests on about the same points of your spine; not a good thing hour after hour, day after day.

To distribute that weight more generally, the seat of the Cornell chair produces a motorized wave motion at adjustable time intervals. This, researchers say, may be beneficial to those with back problems.

The vibrating mouse does its shake, rattle, and roll routine several times an hour as a reminder to take your hand off it and rest it before going back to clicking and dragging. That’s because keeping your hand in a mouse-hold hour after hour is thought to contribute to carpal tunnel and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Researchers issue this caveat about the vibrating mouse: Some users simply lift their hands above the device, suspending their palms in mid-air until the motion stops. “This position is potentially more detrimental because of a potential increase in static muscle activity required to hover the hand,” says CHFERG. The hand should be momentarily rested on a flat surface, instead.

The whole hovering hand issue can be avoided with the Bilila Footime Foot Mouse, described recently on This clever device puts the mouse on the floor (Where mice usually run!), in the form of a slipper that goes onto your right foot. Moving your foot operates the computer cursor. Clicking is done with a pedal by your left foot.

Try OSHA Accident Case Studies at no cost and with no risk. Click for info.

Tired, Burning, Itchy, Watery

CVS is Computer Vision Syndrome. As defined in studies by OSHA’s NIOSH research arm, and reported on, it’s a temporary condition suffered by those who “focus on computer displays for protracted, uninterrupted periods of time.” (Know anyone like that?). The symptoms are tired, burning, itchy, watery eyes, double-vision, after-images, headaches, fatigue, and trouble refocusing the eyes. This condition is especially troublesome in call center operations, where studies have shown the condition contributed to lowered productivity and increased error rates.

The solutions are remarkably simple: Frequent breaks away from the monitor to refocus the eyes on more distant objects, and the use of task lighting at the workstation, which reduces glare.

Of course, before any of these solutions to ergonomic problems can be implemented, bad ergonomics have to be noticed by your managers and supervisors. We’ll give you guidance on getting them to do that in tomorrow’s Advisor.