The HSE reported in 2019/20 that Musculoskeletal disorders contributed to 30% of all new and long-standing work related ill health; secondary to stress depression and anxiety.
2020 has been a year of significant change for all UK workforces, and employers have had to quickly adapt and change the way that their business and employees work. The Office of National Statistics reported that in April 2020 alone, 46.6% of people in employment carried out at work from home, and of those, 86% did so as a result of the pandemic. As a comparison, in the whole of 2019, only 30% had experienced working from home. As the working environment continues to change, so will the need to support your employees against musculoskeletal related disorders.
As the working environment continues to change, employees will need continued support to protect against musculoskeletal related disorders both at home and if they choose to work from the office.
Here are some tips to help your employees:
Complete a DSE assessment
To find out how your employees have been affected by working from home, complete a DSE assessment. This will identify areas for improvement and help you understand how your employees are working whilst at home. Equally, if your employees do return to the workplace, it’s your responsibility to make sure that they are working safely and their workstations, screens, eyesight and work routine is correct.
Remind them to move around
The human body isn’t designed to sit for a long period of time. In the office your employees will typically move around to go to meetings, talk to colleagues and go for lunch, but at home they can do this all in one spot.
Whether your employees are working from home or in the office, remind them to take time to move around – get up for a walk every hour and adjust how they’re sitting throughout the day. Even just going to make a cup of tea will make a difference.
Posture – provide equipment
How we sit has a big impact on our backs, working crouched over a laptop is incredibly harmful to musculoskeletal health.
Provide your employees with the equipment they need to be fully supported. Help them set up their workstations properly and give regular reminders so they don’t slip back into bad habits (like working on the sofa all day).
“As many of us are working from home, where we can, it is important that employers continue to look after their employees’ health and safety in the same way as if they were in the workplace. Most of us don’t have a safe office environment at home so employers must assess the needs of their employees to ensure that they have the suitable equipment needed to enable them to look after their musculoskeletal health and general physical wellbeing. In addition, consideration must be given to their psychosocial well-being as many employees may feel isolated and disconnected from the employer. Good levels of effective communication and provision of support are essential.”
Steve Ross – Senior Health & Safety Consultant
COVID Secure Workplaces
Employers must make sure that they are providing COVID Secure workplaces, so they can support those employees who are not able to work from home when required to, even if it’s only occasionally. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to make sure that all the usual DSE assessments and processors are carried out as normal.
Register here for Alcumus’ upcoming webinar, Expert Analysis on the HSE Statistics’ to learn more about the state of play in health and safety at work in 2019/20 and the outlook for 2021.
If you need assistance to implement any of the above suggestions in your workplace, Alcumus PSM’s Health & Safety experts are on hand to help. They’ve been working with companies throughout the pandemic to ensure their people are safe wherever they’re working.
Request a free consultation to find out how we can help you by emailing [email protected] or call us on 01484 439930.