12 June 2013

Is your office setup making your staff sick?

New research reveals that UK bosses are set back by £7.2billion per year in staff absences, purely caused by a poorly-planned office setup.

New research reveals that UK bosses are set back by £7.2billion per year in staff absences, purely caused by a poorly-planned office setup.

By taking the time to discuss the work environment with your employees, and ensuring you carry out a workstation risk assessment every 12 months (as required by law), you could help improve the overall levels of your staff wellbeing.

Survey findings

The recent survey of UK office workers, by ergonomics specialist Fellowes, revealed some interesting statistics, with more than half of all respondents claiming their workplace had made them ill.

The results showed that 70% of those surveyed had suffered back pain, headaches or depression, which resulted in a fifth of those employees taking 14 sick days in a year.

3/4 of people surveyed directly blamed poorly equipped desks for making them ill, with around 2/3 taking medication as a result. Workers said they had to spend time rearranging their office setup to get comfortable – and while 19% used a wrist support for typing, just 16% used a back support for their office chair.

Worryingly, half of respondents said they had not had a workstation risk assessment in the past year, despite this being a legal requirement.

Take responsibility for staff wellbeing

Louise Shipley of Fellowes believes employers should take more responsibility for staff wellbeing.

“Most of us spend a great deal of time at our desks so we need to think harder about the conditions we’re working in – and invest in protecting our health and ultimately, our quality of life,” she says.

“Employers have a responsibility to their employees and that includes making sure they can work safely and productively.

“Investing in the right kind of supportive, ergonomic accessories and workspace assessments should be a part of that process to ensure they have a more engaged and healthy workforce.”

GP, Dr Sarah Jarvis, adds: “What is very clear from the research is that the way you work and the equipment you use has a major impact, not just on your workplace health, but on your wider health too.

“On a daily basis I see many patients suffering particularly from back pain, and I ask routinely about workplace set-up because I know the consequences of poor posture and spending long periods sitting in the wrong position.

“What’s worrying is that we are becoming a nation of ‘self-medicators’ to help ease pain, with workers choosing to sit in silence when they should be having conversations with their employers about making sure their workstation is set up to minimise the risk of long term health issues.”

Take the time now to speak to your staff regarding their office setup and ensure their comfort. Using the correct equipment in the first instance can help safeguard staff wellbeing and save time lost through sick days.