Homeworking, Posture & DSE
Is DSE enough for an Employers’ Duty of Care?
Probably not but my own view is individuals (employees) should be looking after themselves and take responsibility just as much as Employers, especially whilst they are homeworking. The benefits are endless and maybe if you did think about your posture you’d get less of a lecture from me during training sessions. Win-Win! I can’t help think with the on going pandemic of Covid-19, poor posture is just like another pandemic but this one has been around much longer.
Home working and posture.
For those of us that work in an office you will be aware of the hazards faced when sitting for long periods of time. Employers will know of the issues and buy suitable chairs, pads to cushion your wrist when using a mouse and perhaps a step placed under the table for leg adjustment. But you’re homeworking and you can do what you want right? Yes you can but surely you would want to look after yourself and your Employer still has a duty of care to you. And how many businesses haven’t thought about following DSE (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations? Be warned if attending a session on Manual Handling or Display Screen Equipment then at some point I will go into “lecture mode.” Highlighting to everyone the importance of being conscious about your posture. I would say approximately 50% of people on my courses will tell me about aches and pains they experience, with 90% admitting they do not think about their posture at all never mind during working hours.
If we’re not thinking about it, what are the consequences?
Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD’s) are one of the main reasons why people take sickness leave. I guess in evolutionary terms, as humans, we still can’t find a comfortable sitting position for several hours each day without a consequence. MSD’s commonly include repetitive strain injury, lower back pain, aches around the shoulders and neck etc and have long term effects. During training sessions I do get passionate about how we have known about these issues for a very long time and yet most of us suffer from MSD’s at some point.
Employers can’t stop their staff from ageing but they can take practical steps as outlined in the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992. If you work with a computer, laptop, tablet and even a mobile phone (any device really) as part of your daily work activities for any length of time then staff must be assessed for the risks I have already mentioned. Personally this is a no brainer. Costs to a business for sick leave compared to some careful thought when purchasing adjustable chairs, foot pedals, suitable lighting etc, will be worth the investment. It’s about ergonomics – just fit the workstation to suit the person. This is where DSE training can help.
What about staff working from home?
Even if you are working at home with DSE for long periods of time an employer still has a duty of care. It is recommended in these situations to allow staff to take the training (a requirement of DSE Regulation). Employers can then use a DSE risk assessment that focusses on the individual which we can supply after successful completion of training. Use this for home working too. This will identify any areas that need addressing – remember this should be done for each member of staff so ask the employee to complete it themselves. Employers can’t be held totally responsible for the behaviour of their staff when they are working at home but they must make any reasonable adjustments where practicable.
- Can employees make use of work equipment and take it home – e.g. mouse, wrist pads, even the adjustable chair, PC shelf etc Encourage more breaks.
- Don’t expect staff to work 8 hours at their desks when working from home.
- Lower any targets that they should achieve
- Encourage other activities – time spent with family etc
- Insist that staff don’t use their couch as their desk, where possible.
- Employers can make use of seat cushions to aid posture.
Lecture time (sorry but I did warn you).
Consider your life away from work. Do you play any sports, enjoy hobbies – gardening, running, a climbing wall etc which puts strain on your body? Looking after your posture is looking after your life. Make it your personal project. If you have good posture life is just easier when you next walk up all of those stairs at work or transfer several bags of groceries into the boot of the car. I admit I didn’t think about my posture either however as a long-term tennis player (mean backhand) I developed issues with my shoulder and then after some advice from my physio I started to take notice. A bit of brain training was required such as post-it messages on the dash-board of the car or on my fridge at home reminding me about posture and pop up reminders on my smart phone.
My point is although your Employer has a duty of care in relation to your manual handling and when using display screen equipment you have to take personal responsibility.
Where do stretches come into it?
Wow!! That was my reaction two weeks into attending Pilates classes at my local gym as advised by my Physio. Harder than it looks but our instructor had levels for everyone. Stretching really is amazing (we all know it) and my core strength is far better. Just going about doing every day things is now just easier and I feel like I expend less energy.
Working at home? Easy. If we stretch regularly it will strengthen your core and as I said earlier those day to day things become easier.
You can find YouTube videos and do a 10 minute stretch routine at beginners’ level and I’m sure there are Zoom classes too. Perfect excuse to get away from your desk. Try 1 through the morning and another in the afternoon.
Of course, if you have any injuries, consider whether it is wise to do these. What’s the chance if you’re working at home you will be in loose clothes already!!
Take a look.
We have DSE e-learning training for businesses
There are courses for employees and a course for managers who need to assess their staffs’ workstation and equipment. These are short courses, so you wont be sitting for too long (on your new chair support) and save your progress anytime say, if you want to the 10 minute stretch workout video I mentioned.
For courses visit our E-Learning page
For any Managers who complete the course we can send you out a DSE document completely free and you can use it to assess your staff.
Ask us about discounts for group bookings.