With the ongoing pandemic, many employers still have remote workers. Employers are required to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers (including remote workers) as per the Safety Act.
This article focuses on some key areas that employers should think about regarding keeping workers safe and healthy at home. Regarding Ergonomics at home, here is some perspective on preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)…
“MSDs are injuries that affect muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves. They are painful and are becoming a reality for remote workers”, warns Katelyn Versteeg, R.Kin, CRST, ASP, M.Sc..
“Many workers may be experiencing physical discomfort due to lack of proper workstation design, particularly if they are working from the couch or kitchen table. Over time, those discomforts could turn into MSDs.”
Taking steps now could head off that injury. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the law.
Katelyn recommends that follow tips that could help protect remote workers from MSDs.
- Develop a remote work / work from home policy. Consider home office/workstation set-up, scheduling, communication and engagement, environment, distractions, company/client confidentiality, and mental health and wellbeing.
- Train workers. All staff, including people working from home, should be aware of and understand MSD hazards, risks and prevention/controls such as workstation design. Considerations should include if the home workstation is permanent (with ergonomically designed chairs and tables) or temporary (using furniture already in the home). Those with a temporary home office may need creative strategies for achieving the best posture possible such as using a small pillow for lumbar support, raise the laptop to eye level with household objects like a box, and a using a keyboard and mouse to reduce hand and wrist strain. Provide workers with tools, guidelines, checklists, and regular communication – maybe have their supervisor reach out and ensure they are supported.
- Assess hazard and risk. Have remote workers complete a workstation checklist and provide it back to their supervisor. Review these and ensure workers have support to correct any negative responses in a timely manner.
- Encourage employees to report discomfort such as aches, pains or otherwise from long virtual meetings. Consider adding breaks to virtual meetings so people can stretch and walk around. Recommend workers to shift positions often and maybe consider a sit / stand option such as standing and working at the kitchen counter for a period of time.
- Keep track of your efforts. Show your diligence by documenting training, hazards, risk assessments, and communications with employees. After all, you are trying your best to help prevent workers from getting MSDs while working from home.
How we can help
Check out our website with free resources to help you during the pandemic.
Our advisors are also available to conduct remote ergonomic assessments, including recommendations for home offices / working from home.