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HUMAN FACTORS & ERGONOMICS


BETTER PREPARED TO BETTER PERFORM


With many office spaces reorganised to be COVID-secure and millions of employees still working remotely, Andrew Burnett, Head of Category from Lyreco, discusses what this means for health and safety managers and, how a programme of proactive DSE assessments can ensure a more productive workforce.


Since March, many millions of employees have been asked to work from home and offices have shut their doors and set about a new way of organising themselves. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), at the height of the lockdown, nearly half of all those in employment worked remotely at some point. This created new mental and physical health pressures for workers as kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms were transformed overnight into makeshift workstations.


The consequences of this are starting to show. A recent study by the Institute of Employment Studies revealed that more than half of those working from home are now reporting an increase in new aches and pains including neck, shoulder, and back problems.


Working away from traditional office environments that offer a comfortable and well-designed chair, height-adjustable computer screens, wrist supports and even telephone headsets, has been a wake-up call for many. Indeed, physiotherapists are reporting an increase in incidents of chronic pain as patients look to them to alleviate the physical strain caused by home working and we are seeing the rise of what medics are now calling ‘laptop neck’. It goes without saying that uncomfortable working environments impact individual productivity and that, of course, can lead to a hit on the bottom line.


Failing to address such issues now is only storing up problems for the future, and for health and safety teams, proactively doing something is an ideal opportunity to not only prevent future challenges and the impact on staff wellness and productivity but, it also demonstrates commitment to staff.


TAKING STEPS One way health and safety teams can support their


workforce is to ensure that while they continue to work remotely, they do so in the safest way possible. In fact, here is a legal requirement to provide staff with a DSE assessment to cover this.


Lyreco, through its ‘Refresh & Revive’ online wellness hub, offers an in-depth and independent DSE assessment service to help businesses and workers remain compliant in safe working and to help employees and managers understand the importance of good ergonomic practice. The assessor will also make suggestions about how practical improvements


40 “


“WORKING AWAY FROM TRADITIONAL OFFICE ENVIRONMENTS THAT OFFER A COMFORTABLE AND WELL- DESIGNED CHAIR, HEIGHT- ADJUSTABLE COMPUTER SCREENS, WRIST SUPPORTS AND EVEN TELEPHONE HEADSETS, HAS BEEN A WAKE-UP CALL FOR MANY.”


can be made to prevent short term niggles turning into long-lasting health-related problems.


Health and safety managers can help employees by providing access to these independent assessments. The assessment will take place in the home workspace, or the communal office and will identify any issues with the working environment set up, ensure it meets all current health and safety guidelines and, where required, recommend corrective actions.


Importantly, it is not just remote workers that can benefit. Many office spaces have been made COVID- secure. This could well have meant undertaking significant adjustments to layouts, so previous DSE assessments may now fall short as workspaces have been moved around or chairs and equipment switched.


Again, a DSE assessment of the newly created workspace can help health and safety teams ensure their company protects the wellbeing of their employees. This is vital as ultimately, better performances come from happy and healthy staff who are better prepared to do their job by working in a comfortable and safe workspace.


www.wellnesswithlyreco.com/wellness-hub-dse- assessments/


www.tomorrowshs.com


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