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What Is a Workstation Assessment?

Have you ever felt a twinge in your back after a long day at your desk? Or maybe your eyes burn from staring at your screen too long? You’re not alone. Many people spend hours at their desks and need to realise the impact it can have on their bodies. That’s where workstation assessments come in. Let’s dive into what they are, why they matter and how to conduct one to keep those aches and pains at bay.

What is a Workstation?

A workstation is more than just a desk. It’s the setup where you work, including your desk, chair, computer and other equipment. Think of it as your work hub. A well-designed workstation can make your workday smoother and more comfortable. Conversely, a poorly set-up workstation can lead to discomfort, pain and long-term health issues.

Why is Workstation Assessment Important?

Workstation assessments are like a health check-up for your workspace. They ensure everything is set up to minimise strain on your body. Here are some reasons why they’re crucial:

  1. Preventing Injuries: A good setup can help avoid constant strain injuries, back pain and other musculoskeletal problems.
  2. Boosting Productivity: Comfortable employees are more productive. No one works well with a crick in their neck.
  3. Enhancing Well-being: A proper workstation can reduce stress and fatigue, making work more enjoyable.
  4. Legal Compliance: Many countries require ergonomic assessments by law. Keeping compliant can save businesses from hefty fines.

Conducting a Workstation Assessment

A workstation assessment, while not as complex as rocket science, requires attention to detail. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Check the Chair:

  • Height: Adjust so feet are flat on the floor, or use a footrest.
  • Backrest: Should support the lower back. Adjust angle and height.
  • Armrests: They should be at elbow height and not interfere with desk access.

Desk Setup:

  • Height: Place your elbows at a 90-degree angle when typing.
  • Space: There should be enough room to move legs freely.
  • Surface: Keep it clutter-free to avoid awkward positions.

Monitor Position:

  • Distance: Keep it at an arm’s length away.
  • Height: The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level.
  • Angle: Tilt the monitor to reduce glare and neck strain.

Keyboard and Mouse:

  • Position: The keyboard and mouse should be within easy reach.
  • Height: Keep wrists straight and avoid bending upwards.

Lighting:

  • Brightness: Use blinds or curtains to control natural light. Avoid harsh lighting.
  • Glare: Position the monitor to reduce screen glare.

Posture:

  • Sitting: Sit back in the chair with feet flat and knees at a 90-degree angle.
  • Standing: Keep feet shoulder-width apart and weight-balanced if using a standing desk.

How Often Should Workstation Assessments Be Conducted?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but regular checks are a good idea. Here are some guidelines:

  • New Employees: Assess their workstations when they start to ensure they are comfortable from day one and to address any specific needs they might have.
  • New Equipment: Anytime new furniture or tech is added, reassess to ensure the new items are appropriately integrated into the existing setup without causing strain or discomfort.
  • Periodic Reviews: Every 6-12 months is a good rule of thumb to catch any gradual changes or adjustments that might be needed as tasks and technology evolve.
  • After Complaints: If someone reports discomfort, check their setup immediately to identify and fix any issues before they lead to serious health problems.

Who Can Conduct Workstation Assessment?

Workstation assessments can be conducted by anyone who has undergone proper DSE (Display Screen Equipment) training and possesses the necessary expertise. This often includes occupational health and safety professionals, ergonomists, human resources personnel, trained workplace assessors or external consultants.

Employees should also be encouraged to perform their mini-assessments regularly. They know best when something doesn’t feel right and can make immediate adjustments to improve comfort. Companies can help employees maintain a healthy workspace by fostering a proactive approach.

Recommended Breaks & Exercises to Prevent Strain and Fatigue 

Taking regular breaks and doing some simple exercises can make a big difference:

Breaks:

  • Micro-breaks: 1-2 minutes every 30 minutes to stretch or move around
  • Screen breaks: 5-10 minutes every hour to rest eyes and change posture

Exercises:

  • Neck Stretches: Tilt your head gently from side to side
  • Shoulder Shrugs: Raise shoulders towards ears and release
  • Back Stretches: Twist gently from side to side while sitting
  • Leg Stretches: Extend legs and flex feet to stretch calves

Conclusion

Workstation assessments might seem tedious, but they’re worth the effort. Adjustments can prevent pain, boost productivity and create a happier work environment. Regular checks and employee awareness can make all the difference. So, take a look at your setup. A little tweak here and there could make your workday a lot more comfortable.

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