Essential Ergonomics Tips for Remote Workers

Under the law, Employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers. Whether the home-working is permanent or temporary, there are some areas an employer should consider:

Working with display screen equipment

Those working at home on a long-term basis must be risk assessed for using Display Screen Equipment (DSE) which includes them doing workstation assessments at home.

For those working at home temporarily, home workstation assessments do not necessarily need to be done.

Employers should, however, provide workers with advice on completing a basic assessment at home. The HSE provides a downloadable workstation checklist here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.pdf

There are also simple measures that can reduce the risks:

  • Breaking up DSE work with rest breaks (at least 5 minutes every hour) or change the work activity if possible.
  • Regularly change whilst working and don’t remain static.
  • Periodically move around and try stretching exercises
  • Changing work activity focus and blink to avoid eye fatigue.

There is more help from the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors for people working at home here https://www.ergonomics.org.uk/common/Uploaded%20files/Publications/CIEHF-Working-from-Home-Infographic.pdf

Specialised DSE equipment

If employees have specialised DSE needs, Employers should meet these where possible.

Workers can be allowed to take equipment, such as keyboards, mouse, riser etc. home.

If a worker normally uses items such as ergonomic chairs or height-adjustable desks, try other ways of having a comfortable working environment, such as supporting cushions.

Reviewing DSE arrangements

If temporary home working extends, regular discussions should be had and, assessments made and additional steps put into place if required. Areas that should be checked include:

  • Developing aches, pains or discomfort related to temporary DSE arrangements
  • Possible adverse effects of isolated working
  • Employees possibly working longer hours without adequate rest and breaks

If home working is made permanent for an employee, the full responsibilities of an employer under the law come into effect and full workstation assessments need to be done, with workers provided with appropriate equipment and advice.

Reviewing DSE arrangements

Workers may be using tablets and smart phones at home. These, too, have ergonomic issues and areas that need to be considered:

  • Texting and other small-screen use can be stressful on the thumbs. Limit this to no more than 10-15 minute sessions.
  • As with other DSE equipment, stretch often when spending extended time on a device.
  • Posture should be thought about. Use something to support your arms and don’t hold them aloft for long periods. Don’t maintain a bent-neck posture.

Other areas may need to be considered when assessing home working ergonomics, including lone working and stress and mental health.

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