Long Hours Should Be Tiring, Not Painful - InformationWeek

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Long Hours Should Be Tiring, Not Painful

The demands of working on Internet time are causing computer users to complain about more than just long hours. Incidences of computer-related injuries are on the rise, accounting for 66% of all occupational illness in 1998, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In May, Internet startup ErgoWeb Inc. will release a software service aimed at helping companies reduce the number of injuries associated with constant keying and mousing. ErgoNet is a subscription-based software service designed to assess computer users' workstation setups via the Web and provide ergonomic tips for minimizing the risk of developing painful back, neck, wrist and forearm injuries.

ErgoWeb claims its software--developed at the University of California at San Francisco's Center for Occupational and Environmental Health--will save companies thousands of dollars on employees who miss work because of computer-related injuries. Last year, U.S. companies spent $20 billion on workers' compensation claims, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and another $34 billion on closely related costs such as lost work time, and recruiting and retraining new employees.

ErgoNet asks users 23 questions about their work habits, posture, vision, and desktop setup, and offers suggestions for improving work environments. The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete and includes a basic training session on ergonomics. Survey results are stored in a designated database to help human resources spot high-risk employees and to track injuries.

The software, however, requires some customization. On top of the subscription fee, which ranges from $1,000 a month for 250 users to $8,000 a month for 250,000 users, there's a one-time integration fee of $1,500 to connect ErgoNet to the corporate database.

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