The current Covid-19 Pandemic has caused many organisations to instruct their staff to Work at Home or Work from Home and continue to use computer equipment as part of their work duties, in their home; in some instances members of staff have been experiencing Discomfort and Lack of Productivity when working at their computers at home, and we have been consulted for advice on how to restore good Computer Work Station Ergonomics in the Home Environment.
Often the root cause of the discomfort and lack of productivity has been the fact that Ergonomic Compromises have been made because of the use of domestic furniture that is not appropriate for the purpose of configuring an Ergonomic Computer Work Station in the Home. We therefore hope the following tips will be found to be helpful.
TIP 1: CARRY OUT A HOME WORKING DSE ASSESSMENT OR CHECK AS NECESSARY.
Assessments should be seen as a ‘win-win’ situation rather than a chore; they are designed to help the computer user and their employer identify what issues the user may be experiencing, and what may be necessary, in terms of equipment, layout and environment or possible further checks/investigations to help the computer user work more comfortably and efficiently and that, generally, will benefit not only the computer user but also their employer when done properly.
UFFICIO has been carrying out DSE Home Working Assessments for about 14 years now, and, if you would like to know how we could be of help to you phone us for further details on 01462 681370.
The Health & Safety Executive states that for those people who are working at home on a long-term basis, the risks associated with using display screen equipment (DSE) must be controlled and this includes them doing workstation assessments at home.
For those working, at home temporarily, they advise that employers do not need to ask them to carry out home workstation assessments. However, they do state that employers should provide workers with advice on completing their own basic assessment at home. The HSE has a straightforward section in their website which includes a downloadable check list.
TIP 2: GET THE RIGHT DESK OR WORK SURFACE
In our experience, many people, who have had to relegate their work-related computer activities to home, are using dining room tables as a desk. In some instances this is fine because the table’s configuration is similar to that of a desk, but in some others table legs and frames prohibit the user getting close enough to the work surface especially if the user is sitting on a computer task chair with a 5 star base, and the user ends up stretching and/or clashing their legs on the table frame; frequently the work surface of the table is too high (should be approximately 72 - 74 cm high for an average size human being sitting at the desk whilst using an Ergonomic Computer Chair with a 5 star base).
Many dining room tables have deep under-frames that rub on the tops of the legs of the user and stop them from sitting at the right height to the work surface again causing them to sit in the wrong position relative to the work surface and therefore stretch or compromise the positioning of their arms and posture generally.
Often dark-coloured work surfaces provide a too-sharp a contrast to white documents; and shining, reflective surfaces of highly polished or glass tops can cause unwanted reflections.
Some ‘home office’ desks have extremely small work surfaces that prohibit setting items up inline and interfere with the good ergonomic layout of laptop raisers and outboard keyboards and mice which are generally necessary if someone is working continuously on a laptop computer. In many instances they have under shelves which clash with the user’s legs unless they sit too far away from the desk, and that causes them to stretch too much.
On our website you can see many desks, at reasonable prices, which contain unrestricted under work surface areas (knee hole space) a selection of attractive work surface colours with the right levels of light reflectivity to help restore this fundamental element of good Work at Home Computer Work Station Ergonomics.
TIP 3: USE THE RIGHT ERGONOMIC COMPUTER CHAIR
Most of the time we don’t give a second thought to the Computer Swivel Chair that many of us sit on in the Work Place, but it allows us to swivel seemingly seamlessly and its castors facilitate moving towards and away from the desk without having to lift the chair.
Think also about how the mechanism on most office chairs allows you to adjust backrest height and angle, seat height and even, in some instances, lumbar support.
Now think about how the restricted and lacking in adjustment a typical dining room chair is in comparison to the above; how when we make those constant movements the chair tends to restrict rather than comply; how when we want to adjust the supportive surfaces we can’t and sometimes end up with the wrong posture. Using the right Ergonomic Computer Chair for you and your environment is therefore highly important, and don’t forget that its upholstery should comply with the Domestic Cigarette and Match Fire regulations (not all chairs that comply with the office regulations comply with Domestic Regulations), and also make sure that the castors the chair uses are the right sort if you are using them on a hard floor surface, and that you may need to implement some sort of appropriate protection for the floor to prevent marking it.
At UFFICIO we have one of the largest ranges of Office Seating and have developed some special products that are especially configured for working at home with a computer, and incorporate the essential elements for adjustability, support and value for money together with the right upholstery for home use – and all at sensible prices with delivery and set up available in most of the Home Counties.
TIP 4: USE THE CORRECT DESK TOP ACCESSORIES FOR GOOD ERGONOMICS
Laptops are very popular because of their portability and relative ease of set up. However, when used in their native form, most of them present a monitor screen that is too low relative to the user’s head and eyeline when used on a continuous basis; this can cause in some people the tendency to lean forward too much, crank their head downward at too severe an angle and generally put stress on their upper musculoskeletal region. In many instances, working at home on a laptop computer will mean working continuously and therefore the laptop should be set up with an appropriate laptop riser, and then that will mean configuring it with an outboard keyboard and mouse as the inbuilt items will not be ergonomically useable as they will be raised and at an angle.
Likewise copy holders and book holders can place documents and books at better angles and heights for improved ergonomics and resulting comfort at the DSE Home Working Work Station.
TIP 5: SET UP YOUR HOME WORKING DSE WORK STATION ERGONOMICALLY.
The best equipment in the world will not work to provide you with a good working environment unless its Ergonomic Relationship to you and its accompanying equipment is correct. Many a time the right equipment placed in the wrong way has been counterproductive. The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (CIEHF) has produced a really interesting, easy to follow, guide on this.
TIP 6: KNOW HOW TO ADJUST YOUR EQUIPMENT
Over our 14 or so years in business we have carried an enormous amount of seating assessments on the premises of our clients, and it has not been uncommon that, when going to carry out such an assessment, someone other than the assessee stops us and asks us to ‘have a look at their chair’ on the way out because they are uncomfortable sitting in it; and, sometimes, the problem is that they don’t know how to adjust it and it needs setting up properly; often words to the effect of ‘I didn’t know how comfortable this chair could be, thank you’ are to be heard after we’ve set their chair up properly!
The same goes for all ergonomic items and accessories that may be used in the home for working at home/working from home; they need to be individually set up properly as well as integrate within an ‘ergonomic mix’ within your DSE Home Work Station.
TIP 7: REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE AN INDIVIDUAL AND HAVE INDIVIDUAL DSE WORK STATION NEEDS
No 2 people are exactly alike and their differences will show up in the need to supply the right equipment and the right ergonomic interface; whilst some individuals may be fine with the ‘standard kit’ provided by an employer provided it is set up properly, it will invariably need laying out to suit the needs of that individual; others, however, may need adaptations or changes, to their equipment, or further investigations in order maintain good comfort and provide a healthy work station; and that brings us back to the importance of having the relevant Work at Home DSE Assessment or Check.
TIP 8: REMEMBER WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU
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