Physical ergonomics at translators’ workplaces
Meidert, Ursula; Neumann, Silke; Ehrensberger-Dow, Maureen; Becker, Heidrun Karin (2016). Physical ergonomics at translators’ workplaces: Findings from ergonomic workplace assessments and interviews. ILCEA Revue de l’Institut des Langues et des Cultures d’Europe et d’Amérique, 27 Peer reviewed.
Most professional translators in the Western world are heavy computer users and thus may be exposed to health risks known to be associated with computer work. These include musculoskeletal ailments of the upper extremities, back, shoulders, arms, hands and problems with the eyes. This paper reports on the findings of workplace assessments and interviews with professional translators with respect to the ergonomics of their workplaces and related health
issues. A total of 36 professional translators working as freelancers, in institutional settings or in commercial enterprises were visited at their workplaces. Each workplace was assessed and compared to the recommendations about ergonomics available in the literature. In addition,
interviews were held with translators immediately after the assessments about their current health status and any recent complaints. Many of the assessed workplaces evinced a high standard of ergonomically appropriate equipment and furniture. However, the equipment was in many cases not adjusted to suit the ergonomic needs of the individual using the workplace. Although the level of complaints was low overall, the highest number of health complaints
related to the eyes, neck and shoulder girdle. Frequent breaks, changing posi
tion and doing short exercises to loosen up tense muscles would address these problems by helping to reduce tension and pain in the neck, shoulders and back and by providing rest for the eyes. Whenever possible, an ergonomic consultation is recommended. It is also recommended that ergonomic knowledge about proper workplace set-up should be provided in professional training.