Telling the truth about SME life today

From hunter-gatherer to hot-desking and flexible working keyboard warrior

Employers are legally obliged to carry out a desk assessment and fund eye screening tests for people who use displays. Many larger businesses have occupational health staff whooversee the wellbeing of staff, while SMEs without’such resources”have a wealth of information freely available from government organisations like the HSE.

Organisations such as the Institute of Occupational Medicine are available to carry out desk assessments and provide advice on workstation set-up.

It is not your responsibility to be fully versed in HSE guidance, but if you?try?hot-desking or work from home time-to-time, make sure your monitor is at eye level so you’re not crouching and your chair is at a height that places your forearms at a right angle to your body. Investing in a screen stand and docking station is a must.

When working from home, you should also avoid the temptation of sitting on your sofa clearing emails while you’re catching up with Netflix.

Desk assessments do not guarantee complete avoidance of WRMSD, especially for those of us whoAre susceptible.

“The people who come with neck and shoulder issues have one common feature; they tend to have less stamina and strength in the muscles that control the shoulder and shoulder blade movement,” says Clemow. Desk assessments also frequently fails to deliver good results in environments where there is high churn, hot-desking or self-selected remote working.

?Where employees are designated remote workers, employers must provide a desk assessment and the appropriate equipment this does not apply to situations where the employee chooses to work from home though. It would be good practice to ensure that guidance is given to those people,” points out Crawford.

Things to check for your office desk or while hot-desking

Your eyes should be the same height as the top of the screen of your monitor and your mouse positioned within easy reach, so it can be used with a straight wrist.

Forearms should be approximately horizontal and enough space given to accommodate all documents and/or other equipment. There should also be a space in front of the keyboard to rest hands and wrists when not typing.

Wireless freedom

Relatively recent tech innovations can be of great help. Wireless keyboards and mice offer flexibility for the user. People are often constrained by wires,?’says”Crawford. Those using laptops should invest in a full-size keyboard.

People with smaller hands’should use smaller mice. If you’ve got a dual monitor set-up, work out if you’re using the screens equally. If you are, have them in front of you. If you’re using one more than the other, have that one in front. Also, the more screens you use, the further back you should sit.

It’s never too late

What happens if you do develop an injury” Don?t ignore it and hope it will go away. Rehabilitation often relies on people changing their habits, which tends not to happen. It is important to realise that treatments such as osteopathy can help, but if the underlying cause is not fixed, the symptoms can come back,” says Clemow.

“The good news is: people are becoming more aware,” notes Crawford. There is increasing recognition of the hazards associated with working at a computer, treatment techniques are becoming widely available and technology is being developed that can minimise work issues.

“We may not have evolved to sit down all day, but our ability to adapt and thrive in any environment has successfully transformed the hunter-gatherer into hot-desking or office-bound keyboard warrior.”

Davis Lee is general manager of product engineering, displays and client peripherals at Dell


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