Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Third Edition. Rom WN, ed., Philadelphia, PA: Lippencott-Raven Publishers, 1998 Sep; :1333-1344
In 1973, Hultgren and Knave first recognized the potential health risks of video display terminal (VDT) use. Since that time, VDTs have become almost ubiquitous in the workplace, and an enormous amount of research has examined their effects on both the design of jobs and the health of workers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), alone, has conducted several dozen health hazard evaluations and published more than 50 scientific reports on the subject. It is not possible to address all of the research findings to date in this chapter; rather, the chapter focuses on key studies to summarize current views on the risks of VDT use. Ergonomic and organizational countermeasures are also discussed. While closure is emerging on some issues (e.g., effects on vision), uncertainty in other areas seems 10 be increasing. For example, it is becoming increasingly apparent that musculoskeletal disorders among VDT users are not a simple function of biomechanics alone. Data strongly suggest that psychosocial factors play an important etiologic role, although their relative importance and mechanisms of effect are not well understood. This chapter addresses four health end points: visual system dysfunction, musculoskeletal disorders, stress, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. For each end point we summarize findings on the nature, prevalence, and causes of health or functional disturbances in VDT work; a description of recommendations, as available, for control of these effects is also provided.