Working at home is a bit of a ‘marmite’ issue for both employers and employees. Some people still believe that work is best done in the office, and this can be true for certain job roles. However, the opportunity to work at home can bring enormous benefits to both employee and employer… but only when it’s done correctly!
Recently, we’ve been asked what organisations should be doing in terms of managing DSE risks for staff who do work at home.
Firstly, this is what the HSE have said on the matter:
There is no increased risk from display screen equipment (DSE) for those working at home temporarily. So employers do not need to do home workstation assessments.
You could provide workers with advice on completing their own basic assessment at home. A practical workstation checklist (PDF) will help but employers do not have to provide this for those working temporarily at home.
Other simple steps you can take to reduce the risks from display screen work:
- breaking up long spells of DSE work with rest breaks (at least 5 minutes every hour) or changes in activity
- avoiding awkward, static postures by regularly changing position
- getting up and moving or doing stretching exercises
- avoiding eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time
We have a very simple DSE checklist that you could give to your staff who are temporarily home working.
Although there are different types of homeworking and the appropriate way to manage the risk depends on a number of factors, we have compiled some general advice on how to set up a home office properly.
Tips to set up a safe home office
There are hundreds of different DSE tips that we could talk about, but many of them will not apply to most staff temporarily working from home, as they won’t have the equipment available to them that they would in the office.
So, we’ll keep the tips as simple as possible!
Keep the keyboard directly in front of you and a comfortable distance away from you. You should be able to rest your wrists in front of the keyboard when you are not typing. However, you should avoid resting your wrists when you are typing.
Keep the mouse close to you, so that your upper arm is relaxed beside your body.
You should also adjust your mouse settings so that the cursor moves at an acceptable speed for you. This can be done on the control panel in Windows, or in system preferences on Mac.
Your screen must be directly in front of you.
On screens up to 17 inches in size, the top of the screen should be approximately level with your eyes. This can be adjusted either on the monitor itself, or by placing the monitor on a stable platform.
Your screen should be approximately an arm’s length away from you when you are sitting comfortably back in your chair.
Your phone must be within a comfortable reach of where you are sat.
If you need to type whilst on the phone, you should avoid resting the phone between your shoulder and your head. Speak to your employer about getting a telephone headset.
Things to consider as an employer
The HSE state:
As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers.
So, as an employer, when someone is working from home temporarily, you must consider:
- How will you keep in touch with them?
- What work activity will they be doing?
- Can it be done safely?
- Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?
With that said, there are many considerations when it comes to setting up a home office, so employers should provide their workers with advice on completing their own basic assessment at home.