agencies are also reported to be buying shields in a piecemeal fashion, rather than part
of a unilateral policy on VDTs.
(2) Other low-cost measures. The Fund for the City of New York, a
nonprofit organization, established by the Ford Foundation, has designed its offices so
that all VDT operators sit at least 28 inches from their own terminals, and about 40
inches from other terminals. (Terminals emit EMR from the front, sides, and back.) At
these sitting distances the electromagnetic radiation drops significantly.
e. Legislating Video Display Terminal Safety. Twenty-five states are
currently considering changes in the law to cover possible VDT harm in the workplace.
Since the government has long required TV screens and VDTs to be shielded from X-
rays, they may well legislate electromagnetic shielding requirements, as well.
4-19. LANDMARK SUFFOLK COUNTY LEGISLATION ON VIDEO DISPLAY
The growing importance of VDT safety as an issue is evidenced by the fact that
legislation, mandating safety measures, has spread from California (the traditional
vanguard of social change in the US) to New York. In a piece of landmark legislation,
Suffolk County, on New York's Long Island, passed a law requiring companies with
more than 20 terminals to provide adjustable furniture, special lighting, detachable
keyboards, and work breaks, and to pay 80 percent of VDT workers' eye-care bills.
This decision may point the way toward a growing trend toward legislated computer
4-20. REPETITIVE STRAIN INJURY
a. What It Is. Tens of thousands of workers, ranging from factory workers to
white-collar professionals, are being injured by repetitive, continually twisting motions on
the job. Since the early 1980s, repetitive strain injury (RSI) has been widely reported in
many service-sector jobs. It now afflicts supermarket clerks, who use price scanners at
checkout lines, as well as airline flight attendants who constantly press the handbrakes
of food carts used to serve passengers. It has struck thousands of office workers who
use computers for a living, from telephone operators and data-entry clerks to newsroom
reporters and editors. With about half of the nation's office workers using computer
terminals daily, RSI looms as the occupational disease of the l990s. Strategies will
have to be found to restructure the way work is organized. In the service sector, the
organization of work has followed the traditional industrial model that uses technology to
create smaller, repetitive tasks as a means of increasing pace and, ultimately,
productivity. As more RSI-related workers' compensation claims crop up, safety experts
will have to devise ergonomically improved workstations (workstations that factor in
human comfort). They will also have to offer preventive training. In addition, employees
will need to be more aware of the work conditions that foster RSI.