Employers have a duty to provide appropriate home-working equipment and arrange appropriate DSE risk assessments to ensure those working from home are not at risk of injury, in the same way as they are at your actual workplace. The risks to health and welbeing are exactly the same at home as they are at work, but with inadequate workstation set-up and home furniture; perhaps creating a greater risk of Muskeloskeletal damage (MSDs).
Here, Derek Maylor Branch H&S Co-ordinator and Jamie McGovern Branch Area Safety Rep and tutor of Mental Health First-Aiders from CWU's Greater Mersey Amal Branch discuss home working and offer advice to ensure you set up your workstation as you would at your office-based workplace:
Sitting at the kitchen table is ok for an hour or two but if you are to be working from home for a lengthy period better to take a bit of care.
There are many on-line guides, but all show how to adjust your seat, arm rests etc assuming that you are in an office not sitting at the dining table with the dog lying next to you or the cat trying to get the mouse.
However, where you can follow the guidance on the enclosed “DSE Helpful Hints” from Posturite. Start with yourself and get the equipment to fit you not the other way around. Start with the seating, can use cushions to get suitable height but pillows are better as they stay in place easier as they are longer. Stops them falling onto the sleeping dog.
To get the eyeline right so not leaning forward too much can use some of those large books full of pictures from Africa which are on the bottom shelf, but you never look at. Loosely, the screen should be about touching distance and the top of your screen at eye level.
Set up away from excessive light, avoid having the window behind you or sitting facing a window – thought one would be handy in the room somewhere so you can see things. Glare from a window, light, or reflective wall causes cause eyestrain very quickly.
Take lots of breaks, can use timer on mobile for 30 minutes or whatever suits you but definitely no longer than an hour without getting up and away from the screen. Take a lunchbreak and don’t just keep on working or scanning news on your phone. Do anything that gets you away from your screen.
Stretching - no matter how well you set up problems may arise as working at a computer often involves no changes in body position so the lack of movement can lead to muscular aches and pains. Moving and stretching about a bit also amuses the dog.
You have to be mindful of your own mental health if working from home.
Finally, there accessories like footrests used in your office should also be provided if you require such additional equipment in your normal working environment.
You can find additional resources to download from the Unionsafety E-Library Search using categories; 'Home / Lone Working' and 'Display Screen Equipment' for documents such as risk assessments, correct workstation set up and how to avoid MSDs.