The downside of working from home
With many employees now home working, those early warning signs of aches and pains that people develop when using a computer are being ignored. It is easy to mention a backache or neck pain to a manager or HR when in the office, but to formally report it when working from home is not as easy and problems are not being reported until the symptoms are more serious. Even when they are reported many employers are not sure how to manage them.
The following is a recent real example, from our Occupational Health Physiotherapy team of what can happen if you ignore the warning signs:
A 34-year-old IT professional has been working from home since March with a laptop placed on a desk and sits in a fully adjustable office. Gradually over a 3-4-week period he develops neck pain, informs his employer who sends a laptop stand. This gentleman is not alone in being unaware that you need separate input devices when using a laptop stand and just places his laptop on the stand and is pleased to find his neck pain settles. However, within 2 weeks he notices that both his forearms are aching which he puts this down to longer periods of working. He decides to take a week of annual leave and by the end of his week the pain has gone. Refreshed from his break he returns to work but within 3 days the pain in his arms has returned and the severity forces him to speak to his GP who signs him off work for two weeks and refers him for physio. Fortunately he sees an Occupational Health Physio who immediately advises him of the need for the separate keyboard and mouse; but once again the symptoms have settled and he decides to return to work and order the equipment to be delivered in due course. Within one day the forearm pain is intolerable and he is signed off work for a further 3 weeks. He proceeds with his physio treatment, orders his new equipment and successfully completes a graduated return to work under the guidance of his physio. This has cost the employer 6 weeks of sick leave, undoubtedly a loss of productivity over a longer period; and for the employee a great deal of pain.
To avoid these scenarios, training in correct set up is essential. Self-assessment for home workers is the easiest option. Simple health and safety measures like this example are easy to action in-house, but if employees report discomfort, ensure good communication chains are established. If symptoms persist get external help.
We have a UK wide network of Occupational Health Physiotherapists who can visit employees at home and if this is not possible due to Covid-19 risk levels in their area we can provide virtual assessments.
If you have a home worker reporting pain when using their work equipment; or need assistance meeting Health and Safety regulations for home workers - we can help wherever they are located!
Level 2 Home Worker Assessment:
For those with physical pain when working (e.g. back, neck or upper limb pain).
Detailed ergonomic assessment.
Immediate advice and solutions.
Full written report with recommendations.
Discounts available for any additional equipment recommendations from most UK suppliers.
Level 1 Home Worker Assessment:
To meet HSE regulations for Home Workers.
Training and advice provided.
Home worker assessment checklist completed.
ADD ON'S: Discounts for combination assessments e.g. vehicle and home office.
INDEPENDENT PHYSIOTHERAPY OPINION: This helps ensure the medical condition is being managed appropriately alongside any workplace adjustments to facilitate a full and sustained recovery.
For further information please complete the enquiry form on our Contact Us page.