Top Tips to Reduce Strain at Work

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It's no secret that desk jobs involving repetitive actions are a leading cause of RSIs, and other aches and pains. As an employer, it's your responsibility to look after the health and well-being of your team. So, what action can your business take to prevent injury and discomfort in your workplace? 

How can DSE and office work cause strain?

Sitting at a workstation for hours every day using a mouse and keyboard and staring at a monitor are all potential causes of repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and muscle aches. Especially if you're not providing an ergonomic work environment.

Strain injuries are most common in the shoulders, neck, arms and hands. So it might not be evident that using display screen equipment (DSE) is causing an issue. But did you know that the wrong screen angle and repetitive mouse and keyboard use could be causing microscopic muscle tears? In turn, these injuries reduce the range of motion and lead to symptoms including pain, discomfort, muscle tightness and weakness.

And it's not only office workers who are at risk. The rise in remote working during and after the pandemic has led to an increase in strain injuries. In many cases, these are a result of non-ergonomic makeshift workstations, like the kitchen table.

Tips for reducing strain in the workplace

So, how can your business reduce the risks in the workplace and minimise the 5.4 million working days lost to RSIs each year? 

Risk assess the office

With strain injuries, prevention is better than cure. So start by assessing the office for risk factors like repetitive tasks, especially those carried out without breaks.

Strains are caused by the overuse of tendons and muscles in the upper body. So even if your employees don't have any symptoms, you should start adapting their workplace for comfort and safety. And proper workstation setup goes a long way toward mitigating the risks.

Start with the right keyboard and monitor alignment, then look at mouse use and chair setup. For example, when sitting at a desk, all team members should be able to:

  • Put their feet flat on the floor
  • View their monitor at eye level to avoid eye strain
  • Adjust their chair, so they're in a neutral sitting position that facilitates good posture
  • Keep a straight wrist when using a mouse to avoid awkward hand positions and bending

This leads us to the next point…

Make sure staff have the correct setup – arrange a DSE assessment

All employers have a legal duty of care to their teams. And that means complying with HSE's Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations. You must ensure that any employee who regularly uses a laptop, PC or tablet for an hour a day has a DSE workstation assessment

A DSE assessment ensures your employees are working with the correct setup for their needs — whether they work in the office or from home.

However, arranging a DSE assessment is about more than compliance. For example, providing ergonomic assessments for pregnant or injured employees demonstrates how much you value their health and well-being. 

Invest in good quality, ergonomic furniture

Investing in ergonomic furniture is another proven strategy when you want to minimise strain injuries in the workplace. 

Height-adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs can support good posture and play a significant role in RSI prevention. In addition, a properly fitting office chair supports the back, allowing you to sit upright and encouraging comfortable working.

However, the real key to ensuring all staff are catered for is to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach – everyone’s needs will be different. A detailed DSE assessment will look at each individual’s role and workstation to help identify the best configuration for them.

Encourage employees to take regular breaks

Sitting in one fixed position for prolonged periods of time is a leading cause of strain injuries. Instead, encourage employees to take advantage of natural breaks to get away from their desks and have a quick walk or practice some stretches. 

Eye strain from prolonged DSE use can lead to headaches and a sore neck and back. Why not encourage your teams to use the 20-20-20 rule? After every 20 minutes of screen time, look at an object that's at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Don't forget remote workers

Remote working and WFH are snowballing in popularity. But as an employer, you still have the same duty of care to workers outside the office. 

Arranging a WFH DSE assessment or virtual workstation assessment ensures that you're minimising the risk of RSIs for workers outside the office environment with the same attention to detail and actionable advice. You'll also create a competitive advantage in recruitment and retention while boosting productivity. 

Provide access to well-being programs and desk massage opportunities

Focusing on your employee's health and wellbeing is a holistic way to relieve the pressures that can lead to strain injuries. 

Soft tissue injuries like RSIs respond well to massage therapy, so why not organise a Desk Massage Day? In addition, well-being techniques like massage and mindfulness workshops can reduce the stress of a high-pressure environment, boosting productivity and creativity. 

Workhappy: in-person and online DSE assessment options

At Workhappy, we're committed to making life more comfortable for your DSE users. We know your company and your employees are unique, so we deliver DSE assessments tailored to you. Feel free to  get in touch with the Workhappy team to book an assessment today.