Is carrying out Workstation (DSE) Assessments a waste of time and money..?

Is carrying out Workstation (DSE) Assessments a waste of time and money…?

To ensure employees are correctly using them, a Workstation (DSE) Assessment for every worker who uses a computer for his/her work is a legal requirement for a company, no matter how small or large.  Unfortunately however, employers feel it is an unnecessary task, one that is expensive and provides few benefits. So at worst they ignore this responsibility, or at best, they provide on-line assessments which are far from adequate. Clients who have had an online assessment complain that it isn't accurate and making changes relies on them, the users, knowing what is correct. Whilst this is a cheaper option, it is not an effective one - on-line assessments can do part of the job, a traditional 2 legged human assessor is needed to complete the job. An analogy would be that of a scanner - it takes the scan but a radiologist is required to interpret it and a doctor to plan the treatment.  The scanner cannot be relied to be radiologist and doctor as well.

So, employers should think again:  the cost of carrying out a health focused workstation assessment is nothing compared to the financial drain that can result from Stress and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) associated with incorrect computer setup/use. 

 

Let’s do a rough calculation to ascertain financial cost and compare that to what my fees are.  I charge £350 (plus travel) to carry out a Workstation (DSE) Assessment for someone who is experiencing MSD/Stress. This usually takes half a day.  I list below what is included in this Assessment but for now, let’s look at the cost to the business of one employee’s ill health associated with incorrect computer setup/use. 

 

 

 

Absenteeism: Taking a salary of £34,000 (roughly average in the Thames

Valley) and the intangible costs (e.g. overheads) to the business = around £200/day.


Presenteeism: missed deadlines, increased workload on colleagues; management involvement; team conflict; paid overtime to colleagues = this figure cannot be assessed because it has too many variables and has far reaching consequences.

 

Legal action against the employer: how long is a piece of string?

 

The latest statistics from the HSE & TUC 2014/15 show the following:

Days lost:

9.9 million due to Stress, Depression or Anxiety
9.5 million due to Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD)

 

Sufferers on average took:

23 days off for Stress, Depression or Anxiety
17 days off due to Musculoskeletal Disorders

Cost to the UK economy in lost revenue is over £10 billion

So my fee, at which you balked when you first read it, is equivalent to roughly half a day’s salary of an employee on average salary…but how many man hours/days , would this save your company…and what would be the financial drain if you didn’t have the Assessment done?

 

Isn’t taking preventative action a simpler and inexpensive process? 

 

So what is included in the FiXme Health-focused Workstation (DSE) Assessment?

A.        For those with Stress Induced Problems and/or MSDs:

 

Information gathering: Before commencing the Assessment, I meet up with HR/Decision Maker to ascertain the situation.

 

Questionnaire: I send one out to the employee concerned to find out about their computer set up. This is analysed and areas of concerns noted so when I arrive at the offices, I am already aware of the areas needing attention.

 

Consultation: I meet up with the employee where I get a full history of the problem from their perspective, as well as an idea of their general physical and emotional health.

 

Observation: I observe the employee whilst they use their computer – this is the most important aspect of the Assessment because it enables me to note their posture, computer set up and general habits, all of which I scrutinise.  My 15 years’ experience as a Clinician in Stress & Pain Management and my training in Computer Ergonomics comes into play here. Once I know what they are doing incorrectly, I can use my knowledge of the body and it’s workings to put remedies in place.  During this this time, I also note any potential Stress inducing situations within the workplace e.g. relationship with colleagues.

 

Training: Once I have got all this information, I sit down with the employee and discuss my findings. 

 

 

 

Area covered include:

Height of monitor

Use of mouse

Keyboard position

Chair and desk height

Lighting

Desk set up

FiXme's Wellbeing Protocol which includes
                       Posture

                       Breaks & Stretches

                       Water consumption

                       Eye strain management

                       Stress and emotional wellbeing

Review: I meet up with HR/Decision Maker to verbally discuss my findings.

 

Report: A final report with my findings is emailed to HR/Decision Maker within5 working days of the Assessment

 

B.        For those with no Stress Induced Problems and/or MSDs

 

For carrying out Assessments for employees with no problems, my fee is£150/employee.  Instead of a Consultation I start the Assessments with a Presentation which everyone attends; the remainder of the Assessment is the same as for someone who has a problem.

 

To conclude: seeing the stark figures of the financial drain your company will sustain as a result of Stress induced problems and/or MSDs, can you afford NOT to engage me (or any other reputable provider) to carry out Workstation (DSE) Assessments for all your staff?


To discuss more, please do get in touch:


E:         diksha@fixme.org.uk

T:         0118 926 1464 / 07878 148 229

W:       www.fixme.org.uk   

 

 

 

Diksha Chakravarti – Brief Biography

Diksha Chakravarti is the Director of Fixme Ltd (www.fixme.org.uk), based in Reading, Berkshire. She is trained in ergonomics and has many years experience as a healthcare professional, treating musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) including RSI, headaches and back pain in computer users.

 

Her clinical experience, skills and training have enabled her to create a successful & high quality programme for prevention and management of MSDs, focusing on Stress and Pain. Included in the programme are Consultancy; Workshops on Stress, Mindfulness and Communication Skills; Provision of health focused workstation DSE assessments and self management tools.

 She has written several articles which have been published in The Ergonomist, Nutritional Practitioner, TalkBack, Private Dentistry and the local press.

 QUALIFICATIONS

MSc Behavioural Neurophysiology; BSc (Hons) Psychology; Clinical hypnotherapy; Computer Ergonomics; McTimoney Chirporactic; Diplomas in different techniques of massage, including medical, deep tissue, remedial and sport; fascial release.

Are you a Computer Athlete?

No, I am not going to preach to you....I simply want to raise the awareness of using our most trust friend, the computer, incorrectly.

Gadgets have become our trusted friend, going with us everywhere (laptops, palmtops, smartphones, i-pads)), doing all we ask of it (email, documentation, presentation, accounts, phone calls via VOIP, texts, WhatsApp etc).  Our dependency on it is absolute – no business (or individual for that matter) can do without it. 

But this rise in gadget use has come at a cost: our health, including increased incidence of headaches

The latest statistics from the HSE & TUC show the following:

  • 6 people each day lose their livelihoods to Repetitive Strain Injury which effects the upper body – headaches, neck and shoulder problems, tingling hands and numbness to mention a few symptoms
  • Over 15 million working days per year are lost to back pain & RSI
  • Cost to the UK economy in lost revenue is over £10 billion

Today I want to focus on the PC. 

Users regularly sit at their computers for long periods of time without a reasonable break I term such people Computer Athletes.  Unknown to most people, such long stints at the computer can easily lead to injury.

We have 2 sets of muscles, postural and phasic, the former helping to maintain a stationary stance, the latter enabling movement.  Both muscles are capable of fatigue e.g. all of us can feel the pain in our legs signalling fatigue, after the morning jog.  However, registering fatigue in postural muscles is more difficult and therefore often goes unnoticed.  It isn’t until an individual attends a bodywork session that he/she is told that some muscles are tight whereas the opposing ones are loose i.e. bad posture has slackened some muscles and adaptivly tightened others, leading to further poorly maintained posture….and the vicious cycle continues...as the diagram above shows.

So what can be done?

Workstation Assessment

 To ensure employees are correctly using their computers, a workstation assessment for every worker who uses a computer for his/her work is essential.  In fact it a legal requirement for a company, no matter how small or large, to carry this out for any employee who uses the computer for work.  It is a simple process but if employers feel it is an unnecessary one, they should think again:  the cost of carrying out a workstation assessment is nothing compared to that incurred when an employee begins to take days off for aches and pains associated with computer use.  This cost can escalate should the employee go off on long term sick leave with back pain and worsen still should he/she decide to take legal action against the employer, as is taking place in the USA and the UK.  Providing preventative advice is a simple and inexpensive process.  

 

Carrying out on-line assessments is becoming the norm but my clients who have had this done complain that it isn't accurate and making changes relies on  the user knowing what is correct - this isn't the case all the time.  Unfortunately, therefore, whilst this is a cheaper option, it may not be a desirable one.   Therefore on-line assessments alone cannot do the complete job, a human assessor is needed.

At FiXme, we create bespoke programmes consisting of presentations, workshops and 1-2-1 workstation assessments to cater for the specific needs of small practices. This approach ensures consolidation of message and increases the chances of compliance, thereby reducing the risk of computer generated musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.  

Breaks, water and stretches

Going back to the fatigue issue, taking short breaks (2mins max) every 30-40mins helps to maintain flexibility in our bodies, which in turn reduces incidence of musculoskeletal problems.

Whilst people drink gallons of tea/coffee, they don’t drink enough water.  The benefits of water include reducing tiredness and increasing alertness. Water aids in keeping muscles supple and reducing eye strain caused by constantly looking at the screen under artificial light – the addition of some simple but effective exercises can help to further reduce the strain on the eye

Finally stretching:  in my opinion, instead of, or as well as, taking coffee breaks stretch breaks should punctuate a Computer Athlete's working day.  If readers of this article do nothing more than introduce some simple stretching routines into their lives, they will substantially reduce the risk of getting back & neck pain.

  Benefits of stretching include:

  • Reduce fatigue
  • Improve range of movement
  • Better circulation and therefore better oxygen supply to cells resulting in improved concentration
  • Relaxation
  • Stress relief

 

 

If you need any help with either carrying out a workstation assessment or with staff who are suffering from musculoskeletal problems then do contact me on 0118 9261464 / 07878 148 229.

All comments welcome...

 

Diksha Chakravarti

 

Diksha Chakravarti is the Director of Fixme Ltd (www.fixme.org.uk), based in Reading, Berkshire. She is trained in ergonomics and has many years experience as a healthcare professional, treating musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) including RSI, headaches and back pain in computer users.

 

Her clinical experience, skills and training have enabled her to create a successful & high quality programme for prevention and management of MSDs, focusing on Stress and Pain. Included in the programme are Consultancy; Workshops on Stress, Mindfulness and Communication Skills; Provision of health focused workstation DSE assessments and self management tools.

 

She has written several articles which have been published in The Ergonomist, Nutritional Practitioner, TalkBack, Private Dentistry and the local press.

 

 

QUALIFICATIONS

MSc Behavioural Neurophysiology; BSc (Hons) Psychology; Clinical hypnotherapy; Computer Ergonomics; McTimoney Chirporactic; Diplomas in different techniques of massage, including medical, deep tissue, remedial and

sport; fascial release.

 

 

Wake-on-LAN ...what is this not so new configuration?

Wake-on-LAN ...what is this not so new configuration?

Simply it allows the educator to schedule whatever time they want their computers to turn on and switch off. When you and your students walk into the room to start the day, the pc’s are on. When class is over you no longer need to remind the class to turn them off, or walk around to each computer to shut them down. All of them are scheduled at your preferred time to shut down.

It's like your heating system, you wouldn't leave your heating on 24/7 and pay for what you are not using. You program it when to turn on and when to turn off. Simple.

i-desk highly recommends this network configuration for your own convenience and potential cost savings.

The perfect cost saving combo is the i-mini pc desk and Wake-on-LAN. Almost as perfect as Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding! Apple pie and custard!.and..well you get the point.

Who doesn't like saving time and money?

Wake-on-LAN ...what is this not so new configuration?

Simply it allows the educator to schedule whatever time they want their computers to turn on and switch off. When you and your students walk into the room to start the day, the pc’s are on. When class is over you no longer need to remind the class to turn them off, or walk around to each computer to shut them down. All of them are scheduled at your preferred time to shut down. It's like your heating system, you wouldn't leave your heating on 24/7 and pay for what you are not using. You program it when to be on and when to be off. Simple. i-desk highly recommends this network configuration for your own convenience and potential cost savings. The perfect cost saving combo is the i-mini pc desk and Wake-on-LAN. Almost as perfect as Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding! Apple pie and custard!.and..well you get the point.