Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders in a Desk-Based Work Environment - dummies

Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders in a Desk-Based Work Environment


Sitting at a desk in an office may not seem like a serious health and safety problem, but the office environment can present significant health and safety concerns. Employees may develop musculoskeletal disorders from repetitive movements and an uncomfortable sitting posture, which, in turn, may lead to sickness absence and high staff turnover.

Many offices also use shared workstations to accommodate employees, especially if some colleagues are part-time or work at different locations some of the time. This way of working is often called hot-desking. Computer use is nearly always involved but, because no one ‘owns’ the hot-desk, the workstations can be poorly set up for each individual, and the desk area may be cramped and untidy.

However, you can take simple steps to avoid the potential perils of desk-based workstations and reap the benefits of hot-desking. You go a long way towards ensuring a safe computer workstation by:

  • Reducing stress and pressure on employees, and reorganising work schedules (good working practices for keeping all employees stress-free)

  • Making sure that people take breaks away from their computers (well, at least from continuously tapping away at the keyboard)

  • Providing adjustable chairs and desks and ensuring that employees know how to adjust them (employees can then ensure that the workstation is suited to their needs)

Ensuring that employees are comfortable at their workstations may increase productivity, because they won’t be experiencing aches and pains. Looking after your employees proactively (instead of waiting until you identify a problem) is good for your employees and therefore good for your business.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides useful, real-life case studies on reducing musculoskeletal disorders.