Working for long periods of time at a workstation with a computer can wreak havoc on your body, sometimes without you even realising the cause. Incorrect positioning of a screen, chairs without suitable support and equipment not in the right place can all lead to postural problems, which often result in a number of ailments including musculoskeletal pain, headaches and eye strain.
These issues can have a hugely detrimental effect on a person’s physical and mental health and well-being which, in turn, can effect their ability to do their job and lead to both presenteeism and increase sick leave.
This is where the importance of Display Screen Equipment (DSE) workstation assessments and good ergonomics practices come in.
Workstation assessments minimise risks to regular DSE users by helping to identify hazards and risks that might impact on the health and well-being of each employee. The assessments look at the DSE user and any existing discomfort or conditions they might have, the suitability of the equipment they are using, the tasks being carried out and the environment in which they are working.
Following this, appropriate changes will be made to the workstation to reduce the risk of work-related pain and discomfort and some additional recommendations may be made to further improve working conditions.
So why is it important for employers to carry out workstation assessments?
Firstly, there are huge benefits to looking after the health and well-being of your employees. Employers who invest time and effort in their workforce in this way reap a number of proven benefits, creating a culture where employees feel valued and cared for.
Secondly, there is the law. Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations, 1992, businesses or organisations with more than five employees must protect their workforce from the potential risks when they are using DSE on a daily basis for more than an hour at a time. Employers have the same health and safety responsibility for home workers as for any other workers.
The main benefits that workstation assessments bring to employers are:
1. Decrease sick leave and presenteeism – if employees work in an environment that has been assessed to reduce their risk of work-related pain or injuries, they are much less likely to take time off work due to ill-health. Presenteeism, when employees work when they are feeling unwell and work less productively, can also be an issue for employers. However, the risk of this is also reduced if proper ergonomic practices are implemented. These factors will help to improve the overall performance of the business.
2. Improved organisational safety culture – when a business or organisation places a high level of importance on safety beliefs, values and attitudes, it will improve the overall health and safety within the workplace, as well as overall organisational performance through having a positive influence on employees.
3. Reduction of costs – office ergonomics does require some upfront investment from employers, it can actually help to reduce business costs. Correct ergonomics practices can see a reduction in compensation or insurance claims and lower staff turnover rates, as well as the decrease in sick leave and presenteeism mentioned above.
And what benefits do workstation assessments bring to individuals?
4. Injury and pain prevention – problems caused by the incorrect setup of a workstation can lead to a number of ailments and injuries, which can easily be prevented with a few simple changes that will be flagged up during a workstation assessment. By identifying the root causes of any discomfort, changes can be made to ensure employees are comfortable and pain-free at their desks. Not only that but as part of the assessment, they will be given tailored advice on taking regular breaks and stretches to keep muscles supple and less prone to pain.
5. Improve productivity and decreased fatigue – if someone is in constant pain, for example with low back pain, it will impact on their overall quality of life. Their sleep may be affected, causing tiredness and resulting in them being less productive at work. By ensuring the causes of their pain are dealt with, the pain will decrease, along with tiredness and fatigue, thus increasing productivity and overall performance.
6. Improve overall health and well-being – working in an uncomfortable environment can have a hugely negative impact on your health and wellbeing, but this can be prevented if the causes of discomfort are acted upon. In addition, if an employee knows they are being supported by their employer this will help to boost morale and increase employee satisfaction.
7. Reduces digital eye strain – the correct positioning of screens to avoid them being too close or too far away is vital to avoid eye strain, as well as taking regular breaks away from the screen. An ergonomic assessment will identify any issues with screen positioning, as well as offering advice on resting eyes regularly.
Now you know the benefits, how do you go about getting a workstation assessment?
Here at Ergonix, we will visit your office across London, Hertfordshire or Bedfordshire and carry out a detailed assessment, putting in place the elements discussed above. All our DSE assessments are carried out by chartered physiotherapists with specialist training in ergonomics.
We also deliver Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) accredited DSE Workstation Assessor Foundation courses to give delegates knowledge and experience to enable them to become confident and competent DSE assessors themselves.