A shocking study has revealed that around 36% of homeworkers are too afraid to ask their employer for help with their posture. The study was carried out by leading UK office supplier, Euro Office, who asked over 2,400 people that regularly work from home about their home workspaces and they found that:
- 23% of homeworkers admit to mostly working from their kitchen table
- 51% of homeworkers acknowledge their workspace is not set up for correct posture
- 52% of employers have not conducted basic HSE & DSE checks for homeworker staff
- 68% of homeworker staff incorrectly assume it’s their responsibility to provide suitable DSE
- 36% of homeworking staff are fearful of asking employers to help with their workspace in case their employer asks them to not work from home anymore
The poll found that just 17% of the respondents had said that their employer had made an effort to check their DSE and workspace setup, whilst 68% of the homeworkers thought it was their responsibility to provide a suitable workstation and display screen equipment. It would seem that the biggest issue here is a lack of understanding of responsibility from both employers and employees, however, the fact that 36% are scared to speak to their employer about their posture either indicates that the employer is not approachable or, they simply don't think that bad posture as a result of poor DSE is a serious enough issue.
Who is responsible for suitable DSE and DSE set up?
As stated within the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, the regulations apply to employers whose workers regularly use DSE as a significant part of their normal work (daily, for continuous periods of an hour or more). These workers are known as DSE users.
- analyse workstations to assess and reduce risks;
- make sure controls are in place;
- provide information and training;
- provide eye and eyesight tests on request, and special spectacles if needed;
- review the assessment when the user or DSE changes.
The importance of correct DSE set up
If workstations are set up incorrectly, employees run the risk of running into numerous health risks. Some workers may find that as a result of incorrect DSE set up, they start to suffer from eye aches, fatigue, upper limb problems, backaches, and other musculoskeletal issues.
Advice for employers
Employers are encouraged to approach their employees and discuss their DSE requirements.
Consultation involves employers not only giving information to employees, but also listening to them and taking account of what they say before making health and safety decisions.
- Help spot any risks
- Make sure Health & Safety controls are practical
Employers should make use of risk assessments and DSE workstation checklists. These will give practical guidance and both can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Be sure to record any significant findings and act upon them as soon as possible.
Providing effective training
Providing effective DSE Training is a no brainer for employees. Not only does training provide a simple way of working towards compliance with legislation, but it also makes financial sense too. It's estimated that around 500,000 workers suffered from musculoskeletal disorders in 2018/19, which has led to 6.9 million working days lost!
Health & Safety training for homeworkers also covers other potential issues like working in isolation, emergency procedures, and risks to other family members.