Occupational Health services in Cardiff & South Wales - The Occupational Health Business help support sign

Learning good posture is key.

Read my Occupational Health blog and learn how to manage musculoskeletal problems at work.

Interpreting the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations can be an expensive minefield for employers. Over the past 30 years I have assessed many employees with musculoskeletal pain, especially affecting the back, neck and arms. Adopting the correct postural position at the workstation, is the best way to avoid these problems developing. It is the working position, not the provision of chairs and other equipment which is key to complying with the DSE Regulations. Unfortunately however, this is still not well understood.

The problem is employees do not generally know how to assess their own workstations and so pain can develop from poor postural habits. Of course organisations then want to help employees stay in work and so when an employee notifies pain in the back, hands or arms, they fund a vast array of ‘special’ equipment thinking that this is the best solution to keep the employee at work, but it’s not. Poor postural habits continue and further problems develop.

Access to Work can fund equipment as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act.

There appears to be some confusion over the requirements under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment Regulations) 1992 and the Equality Act 2010. Implementing these regulations in the workplace is simple and yet employers can sometimes be led along a path which makes it really complicated and expensive.

If an employee does have a long term medical condition which has a substantial effect on day to day activities, the condition may be likely to fall under the disability provision of the Equality Act, though this is a legal and not a medical decision. As a reasonable adjustment, the employee may indeed benefit from some equipment, such as voice recognition software or a specially supportive chair. This need can be assessed and funded or part funded by the Government scheme called Access to Work.

Access to Work Disability Advisers can be found in every Job Centre Plus. There is therefore no need for employers to shop for different pieces of equipment and guess what is needed. The wrong equipment may compound or exacerbate the symptoms because a proper assessment has not been made and teaching correct posture not considered.

Teach your employees to assess their own workstations.

The fact is employees can assess their own working position by comparing their working position against a posture poster which can be created as a screensaver or even a poster in the workplace. Employees are adults and assessing a workstation is easy. It’s the same principle you use when you drive a different car. You adjust the seat and mirrors to make sure your driving position is comfortable.

If employees learn how to assess their own workstation, this also has the benefit of giving them the knowledge to look at how they sit at home when using their own PC equipment.

You don’t need to put employees through a training programme or pay for someone to go around assessing employees at their workstation. The posture poster approach is very easy to understand for everyone.

For employees with a medical condition requiring some reasonable adjustments, contact Access to Work or seek advice from occupational health. Always get specialist help before you consider buying expensive equipment.

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Email: jean.fisher@theohbusiness.co.uk

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