When Covid-19 hit us hard in March, most of us had to vacate our offices. We packed up our desks, collected our laptops – or, in some cases, desktops – and headed home. We logged into work through hastily connected networks and took over space in our homes –in the study, at the dining table or anywhere we could find a suitable spot.
Some of us have returned to our offices while others have been told working from home will be the “new normal” for many more months. So now is a good time to make sure our home set-ups are appropriate for longer-term use.
Hall & Wilcox law partner Alison Baker says while the workplace may have moved, the obligations still exist for employers to provide a healthy and safe environment.
“There are no concessions,” she says. “You have to consider staff physical and mental health. From a physical point, you have to make sure the workstation is ergonomically safe with the right equipment and environment, including decent lighting, heating, cooling and other things,” she says.
“We recommend our clients get their staff to do a self-assessment to identify if there are any occupational health and safety red flags.
“Many businesses – when their people had to mobilize quickly to the home environment – reimbursed them for the cost of buying equipment like monitors, keyboards, etc.”
Angela Uther, the founder of The Red Chair, a business and human resources consultancy, says the key to setting up an ergonomically correct office is making sure your eyes are looking directly at the middle of your screen, not down or up.
“Everything comes from there, because if your seat is too low or high, or your desk is too low or high, you’re in trouble. The other part is having right angles for your arms to your keyboard and knees to the floor,” says Uther.
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