The transition from working in company offices to working at home was a forced exercise for most companies rather than a managed transition.
As a result, this raises many challenges for both employers and employees. It increases the risk of negative consequences due to possible physical or mental strain on the employee who is required to work from home.
In this new home-work environment consideration must be paid to:
- How to manage colleagues working with pain or prior injuries?
- How can productivity be impacted by adverse or makeshift work environments?
- Provision and maintenance of equipment such as computers, desks, chairs, monitors and other equipment
- Should or can an ergonomic assessment be carried out?
As an employer there are number of requirements that must be adhered to in relation to Display Screen Equipment (DSE) or Visual Display Units (VDU’s).
Employees who use VDU’s/DSE’s for more than 1 hour per day must have a risk assessment carried out as the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application Regulation 2007 to ensure minimal risk for the employee. Read More
In the UK, the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations apply to workers who use DSE daily, for an hour or more at a time. We describe these workers as ‘DSE users’. The regulations don’t apply to workers who use DSE infrequently or only use it for a short time. View full details
This includes providing and maintaining a safe workplace, preventing any improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk and providing instruction and training to employees on health and safety.
These regulations are applicable:
- If the employee has no choice but to use the VDU to carry out his/her work.
- If the employee normally uses the VDU for continuous periods of more than one hour.
- If the VDU is generally used by the employee on a daily basis
However in Ireland for example there are certain circumstances where the regulations are excluded:
- drivers’ cabs or control cabs for vehicles or machinery
- computer systems on board a means of transport
- computer systems mainly intended for public use
- portable display screen equipment not in prolonged use at a workstation
- calculators, cash registers and any equipment having a small data or measurement display required for direct use of the equipment
- typewriters of traditional design, of the type known as “typewriter with window”
In Ireland, the HSA have issued Covid-19 specific guidance that there will not be the expectation that employers will provide a DSE assessment to every employee during the pandemic.
This does not reduce the obligation of the employer to appropriately risk assess homeworking on a whole and how employees will be accommodated, with particular attention to vulnerable employees. Within SHWW Act, it boils down to what is reasonably practicable to implement.
Under UK regulations, as an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers.
When someone is working from home, permanently or temporarily, as an employer you should consider:
- How will you keep in touch with them?
- What work activity will they be doing (and for how long)?
- Can it be done safely?
- Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?
All employers are required to evaluate health and safety at workstations with particular reference to eyesight, physical difficulties and mental stress.
VDU Assessments help identify any possible risks associated with incorrect use of VDUs. Strain on the neck, shoulders, back, arms and wrists can result from a poorly designed workstation. A VDU Risk Assessment can reduce the likelihood of developing these symptoms.
DSE/VDU Ergonomic Risk Assessments from Dynamic Safety Solutions will assess all of your workstations and work environment providing initial assessment and training through to the management of corrective actions and follow up assessments.. This is done to identify potential hazards and identify controls to reduce your level of risk.
Dynamic Safety Solutions carry out risk assessments at each employee’s workstation where our assessors observe the employee in their normal work environment.
These can be completed physically in the work place or as a remote assessment (depending on IT capabilities).
Together our assessor and your employee complete a VDU risk assessment survey. The assessment will look at the workstation, the screen, the chair, position of the desk in relation to the windows, the lighting in the work area , we will discreetly identify if the employee is/is not experiencing any pain or discomfort while using the equipment. (This will assist in meeting your legal requirement to carry out health surveillance on your employees).
Where adjustments to the work station can be made to reduce risks, they will be made immediately and these changes recorded. The assessor explains to each employee why those adjustments are required and the personal benefits. Any further recommendations are noted in the reports. Each employee receives individual advice and tuition in workstation set up. Employees are required sign off on all reports which are also considered as training records. This is complete in order to bring a business in line with current legislation and VDU/DSE regulations.
Typically each assessment would take 20-30mins. This may also take longer if we discovered that the employee has any existing injuries or conditions so that we can establish a root cause.