‘Make do and mend’ culture compromising workers health

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More than three quarters of UK employers are jeopardising workers safety with 80 percent found to be using homemade workstation solutions according to a new European survey, commissioned by office ergonomics experts, Fellowes.

Despite 60 percent of companies acknowledging it is employer’s responsibility to influence their staff’s mental and physical health, the research reveals that trained staff are less likely to take workstation assessments on non-trained staff. Also revealed is 31 percent of employees were found to be in charge of conducting their own self-assessments as opposed to delegated health and safety inspectors or HR managers.

Half of all companies acknowledged that it is the line manager’s responsibility to provide fit for purpose workstations. 22 percent of employees raised concerns that they experience physical discomfort at their desk on a daily basis. This reveals that work demands, physical health and the working environment are not being correctly addressed.

This research reveals how much a ‘make do and mend’ culture is affecting workers health and safety in the workplace and how ill-equipped those responsible for ensuring workstation assessments are.

Darryl Brunt, UK & Ireland sales and marketing director at Fellowes, says:

“The topic of employee wellbeing has grown in popularity over the past few years, especially with the recovery of the job market and the need to attract and retain the right calibre of employee. However, it is still evident that some businesses are overlooking the importance of their staff’s health and wellbeing needs. Creating a safe environment so an employee feels both at ease and comfortable will only improve productivity and benefit organisations in the long term.”

In 27 percent of organisations, staff revealed concerns over their monitor or display screens being unsuitable for their needs and 21 percent of office workers said there were no legal requirements when assessing display screens.

New members of staff are being prioritised over long-serving members, with workstation assessment only being prompted upon the intake of new staff members.

One third of companies was revealed to conduct a workstation assessment upon being prompted to do so by long-serving staff members. Even then an assessment would only trigger a change in one in five organisations.

The research also supports the fact that getting the nation working well is important for staff morale and maximising productivity in the workplace. 66 percent of employers admit that these factors do affect ergonomic purchasing decisions, but only 21 percent of companies have purchased ergonomic products to resolve these issues in the past six months.

Out of the companies that have purchased ergonomic products, 66 percent have reported seeing improvements in their staff.

Professor Peter Buckle, from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art and former president of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, says:

“Modern offices are highly complex systems. Understanding the health and wellbeing of staff in the modern workplace is an on-going struggle for many organisations.

“Clearly the application of the discipline of ergonomics is an important part of ensuring that systems are performing at their peak whilst maintaining a workforce that is both healthy and satisfied at work.

“The appropriate selection and use of ergonomic equipment can help deliver performance enhancements but the way that work is structured and organised is also extremely important. The role of ergonomic and human factor specialists in helping to deliver this should be considered by all good organisations.”

 

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