Managers in all sectors of UK businesses continue to worry about the well-being of workers who work from home. Is their home office suitable? Are they able to be productive and healthy in their home offices? Is it possible to fulfill our duty of care and allow homeworking to continue unchecked?
Posturite’s DSE Assessor Neil Duff provides one-on-one risk assessments of Display Screen Equipment to organisations.
“One of my responsibilities is to examine the effects that office equipment and lack thereof have on posture , overall well-being. Neil says that even the smallest changes can make a big difference.
“I am 6ft 7 inches tall, so I’m a great example of how important it is to have workstations that are set up properly for each individual’s body shapes.”
What are the benefits of DSE assessments for homeworkers?
Katharine Metters is Lead Consultant at Posturite. “Let’s begin with the basics.” The UK Health and Safety DSE Regulations are applicable to workers who use Display Screen Equipment (such a computer) for long periods of time. Continuous periods of at least an hour per day.
If the workstation is used for a prolonged period, it would be covered under the 1992 DSE Regulations. The same regulations apply to the workplace. No matter where your employees are, you have the same duty of care.
Answering the question posed in the title of this blog, ‘Do employees who work from home require a DSE risk assessment’ Yes. Every activity performed by employees must be assessed for risk. This will include the location and equipment used. Training is required to train staff about the use and setup of a home-based workstation.
Many people find it beneficial to continue their homework as long as they have appropriate equipment, and information on how to work efficiently and healthily from home. The checks we make on home workstations do not reveal anything, but they are meant to help demonstrate and ensure care.
Prevention of work-related health problems
Neil says that Workstation Risk Assessments aren’t just required by law. They also help to prevent potential health problems. The man in the above photo doesn’t have a support chair to work at home, and he’s not using a laptop stand or separate keyboard.
Posturite checks each individual’s equipment and position to ensure that there is less risk of issues, such as musculoskeletal pain or fatigue.
You can recall the last time you felt pain or had a headache. This is because it distracts from your productivity.
“Breaks are important, as is changing of activity. As a physiotherapist, I know that people need to move, no matter how well their workstations are set up. Katharine says that she talks to employees about being more mobile.
A DSE assessment also includes a section on good mental health at work. Your employees will be more focused and able to fulfill their roles and reach their goals if they feel supported and relaxed at work. Your DSE assessment can help employees feel valued at work. This is a benefit to their mental health and the employees know that they will get support if they need it.
Zurich: Work from home
Huw Jones, Head, Health, Safety and Security UK, Zurich Insurance Group, spoke in a Posturite webinar on how they support homeworking employees.
We want to make sure that homeworkers have all the information they need to understand how to work at home. We use internal communication and software with DSE assessment and training built in to help people get the right information about homeworking safety and health.
The dedicated homeworkers receive office equipment when they are needed, just as if they were office-based.
It’s also about giving guidance to new starters and making sure they’ve been assessed. If we find a gap in the risk assessment, we discuss it with the person or manager to take the necessary steps.
However, I doubt everyone considers the consequences of poor posture at home. Because people are complaining of discomforts such as back pain, we’re seeing more internal assessments. I have had to do a lot of calls in which people were seated on couches in lounges. While that is fine for a call, if that becomes their working position for the rest the day, then that is when the issues begin.”
Bad homework setups
Neil of Posturite estimates that 60% his weekly DSE assessments are done with clients suffering from musculoskeletal discomfort. This is a result of working at home without proper . It’s quite a lot!
The ONS reports a significant 31% rise in neck and back pains since 2019 for those who have taken long-term sick leaves.
“Not all standard work arrangements will work with all staff, even if they comply with minimum requirements. You really have to treat each member of staff as an individual.” Being a DSE Assessor is a daily challenge that I love. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment to resolve someone’s needs.