At first glance a poor workstation set up may not cause alarm bells, and it is unlikely that it will cause you to take an instantaneous trip to the hospital. Yet, an increasing number of research now suggests that sitting long hours at a workstation, a common practice withing office work, can cause unforeseen permanent damage to your health.
Badly planned out workstations and desktop screen can lead to mounting costs for employees and employers alike, in terms of damages to your health and exponential expenses.
The current rise in flexible working which allows employees to work at home must still adhere to this health and safety regulation. The obligation lies with HR teams to fulfill this digital age regulation and wherever the office space maybe it is vital that these standards must be met even if is not physically located onsite. If an employee is sitting in a home office or at their kitchen table, the same legal obligations apply when it comes to health and safety.
A recent study revealed that the average office worker will spend between four and nine hours a day sitting at their desk this equates to two sedentary moths a year. This alone can lead up to all kinds of damage to your health from minor strains and pains to a higher risk of obesity and heart disease.
Another study showed that even though this is the case a staggering 35% of home-based workers are too scared to ask their employers for help with setting up their workstations at home.
Employer have the duty of care to make sure that employee’s workstations are not endangering their workers’ health and to make sure that the environment they are working in isn’t harmful to them.
The importance of Ergonomics in the workplace
Workplace ergonomics, the science of designing workspaces has recently attracted great attention as we are becoming more aware of the effects of poor workplace set ups.
Most of us are aware that having a badly arranged workstation can cause MSDs (Musculoskeletal Disorders). But only a few of us realise how much discomfort and unhappiness these problems can create. Health and safety authorities are so conscious of the risks that can originate from desk bound work that they have put specific guidance for workers and employers in place. Educating people on the importance of ergonomics in the workplace is vital to the safety of workers health. Backache and trapped nerves can just be the start of many underlying issues. If not addressed in the beginning these issues can worsen over time leading to health problems we may have to deal with through our working days and into the rest of our lives. Not addressing these sedentary lifestyles is a recipe for disaster. In the end all of these are serious medical problems which an employer can be held liable for.
Finding a Solution
Creating a culture where our employees aren’t afraid to approach HR about their discomfort is important. Creating awareness lies at the heart of all of this. Being able to create a workspace where your employees can work in comfort is important and letting them know that if a problem arises that it is ok to address it and that it will be dealt with immediately.
Creating an atmosphere of awareness is the first step and highlighting the importance of ergonomics in the workplace can benefit employers and employees.
Companies that value such a culture can start by having VDU training carried out. Such training will provide a more comfortable and safer situation for your workforce and will be the start to a safer more healthier work environment.