As an employer, it is your responsibility to protect your workers from the health risks associated with working at home using Display Screen Equipment (DSE). Display Screen Equipment is equipment such as laptops, PC’s, tablets, smartphones and any similar devices that include a display screen. At home workstations can be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain as well as with eyestrain, fatigue and stress injuries. A recent Italian study conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic showed that 41% of home workers complained of lower back pain and 50% of worsened neck pain. The study also showed that musculoskeletal issues resulting from home working were associated with reduced job satisfaction and productivity. As more employees have been working from home full time this year, it is essential to ensure your employees are working safely and in line with government guidelines with display screen equipment at home.
As well as the regulations employers are required to follow, there are some tips your employees can take when working from home.
Before starting work, it is important your employees pay attention to their posture, the height and angle of their screen and the position of their seat and desk. Blinds should also be used to help to reduce screen glare. They should avoid sitting on the sofa and working with a laptop on their knee whilst working from home, as this position puts unnecessary strain on our backs and necks. Make sure that you educate your staff on good working from home practices.
Sitting in the same position for prolonged periods is bad for our health and puts strain on our muscles. The benefit of working from home is you can go into another room for a 5 minute stretch, put on a load of washing or quickly walk the dog. Make sure your employees take regular breaks away from their desk, and get their body moving. It will increase their circulation and reduce any stiffness in their back and neck.
In the office there are natural changes to employee’s working days and screen based work is broken up with in-person meetings, coffee breaks and chats with colleagues. At home it is easy to stare at your screen all day and not take any moments away from your desk, so be mindful that your employees should include similar breaks into their home working schedule. Shorter and frequent breaks are best, we recommend taking a 5-10 minute break every hour and stepping fully away from your screen.
Long periods of DSE work can lead to discomfort, tired eyes and headaches. Anyone who is looking at their screen for long periods of time on a daily basis should receive regular eye tests. We recommend that individuals see an optician every two years and we carry out vision testing as part of drivers medicals. It is at the employers discretion if they wish to pay for eye tests and while employers are not obliged to pay for them, many do give out vouchers.
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