It's all very easy for the average person to sail through life, getting the odd ache and pain that is associated with ageing and not having too much to complain about. It is very easy for this average person to read through the papers and see compensation payouts to people who have had accidents or injuries at work and think these people have got it made. In what looks like one swift move, they've gone from sedentary office worker to sedentary couch potato with a huge payout for repetitive strain injury. However, this is a gross glossing over of the problem.
DSE risk assessment is frequently being carried out in offices these days to try to minimise the chances of experiencing repetitive strain injury through mis use of work stations. It is by no means a natural position to sit at a desk all day. The head is often tilted, putting strain on the neck, upper shoulders and chest. Breathing is restricted when the worker slouches over a desk for too long causing or aggravating respiratory problems. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a major problem for those using a keyboard all day and is rated the second most common physical issue after lower back ache for office workers.
Lower back problems as well as sciatica can be brought on or worsened by sitting at a work station for long periods of time and DSE risk assessment will highlight the fact that regular breaks should be taken. This is not so easy to remember when the pressure is on. Everyone who works in an office is aware that deadlines have to be met and it is easy to get so engrossed in your work that you find yourself moulded into one position.
At least once an hour, you should take a break from your desk, even if it's just for a stretch and to walk around the office for a few minutes. Your body's joints and muscles will thank you for it. Your boss may not be so happy, particularly if you work in a small company, but you must remind him that it is vital to your health and well being. In the long run, if you don't take regular breaks from your work station under the guidelines of DSE risk assessment, then you will inevitably end up with long periods of sick leave while you repair bits of your body that were forced into unnatural positions for long lengths of time.
Employers have been faced with something of a dilemma the last few years. Productivity is their main concern. They want to squeeze all they can out of employees as regards time and action. They also have a need to protect themselves from ridiculous compensation payouts when staff are injured within the working environment.
They need to look at the bigger picture. Employing DSE risk assessment will show staff and managers how to look after workers. This means that when they are at their desks they will work to the best of their ability. Nobody can say that after four hours of sitting at a desk they are as efficient as when they first sat down. Regular breaks may mean a few extra minutes out of every day but that has to be better than a few months out of work and on a physiotherapists couch to repair the damage.
The new implementation of online DSE risk assessment has been extremely useful for office managers and staff alike. It means that the training can be fitted in over a period of weeks. Smaller bits of what can be a fairly in-depth course will be absorbed better a bit at a time. It can be worked around deadlines to suit the business and staff commitments and saves the expense of staff leaving the office for training courses. DSE risk assessment will pay the employer back tenfold in what he will save in sick pay.
Health and safety expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way DSE risk assessment can protect worker and employer from health issues as well as compensation issues.