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Health alert for keyboard kids

AN ACTION group is offering courses to protect teachers and children from the risk of repetitive strain injury that could be caused by computers.

The Body Action Campaign is concerned that children in particular are vulnerable to long-term health problems because of the Government's determination to increase computer use.

The campaign's founder, Bunny Martin, says awareness needs to be increased because the Health and Safety Executive's powers which protect adults in the workplace do not apply to

children.

She said: "We need to encourage teachers to look after their own health and to find fun ways of teaching children about how to use computers safely, not just at school but at home.

"We need to tell children that, just as their favourite football stars have to protect themselves against injury on the pitch, so children have to protect themselves against health problems when using computers at school or playing computer gams at home.

"It isn't always necessary to use expensive ergonomic furniture in schools. The best furniture in the world won't protect you if you aren't using it properly.

"You can think about your posture and you can use simple things such as makeshift footrests and cushions to improve how you sit at a keyboard."

One-day courses are being offered around the country and the Body Action Campaign, as well as approaching individual schools, will be working with education authorities to organise in-service training sessions.

According to the Ergonomics Society, the RSI risk is increased when schools buy adult-sized furniture to provide community Internet access out of school hours.

Society member Mic Porter said: "Forcing children to work at computer desks which are clearly not designed for their size could give rise to accidents now as well as storing up future musculoskeletal health problems for the next generation."

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