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Injury Compensation – An Accident Waiting To Happen At Your Workstation?

17th December 2013
You might imagine that in the superfast digital era of accessing “everything everywhere” on smartphones, tablets and laptops that the possibility of a health problem caused by working at a static desktop computer was a dinosaur issue, which had fossilised twenty years ago.

Not so! It appears that a Jurassic Park world of employment still exists for many office staff awkwardly hunched over at ill-fitting workstations.

According to new industry research there have been rising complaints and injury compensation claims from around three quarters of office workers over physical and psychological conditions, which have been caused from poorly equipped or inadequately set up office furniture.

Pain and depression...

As a result, seven out of ten workers claim they have suffered from back pain, depression or headaches, many of whom saying they needed to take medication to “manage” their ill-health. One in five workers was forced to take 14 days off work each year and one in 20 state they were forced to leave their job altogether due to a deteriorating condition.

According to the NHS, more than 7 million working days are estimated to have been lost between 2010 and 2011 due to musculoskeletal disorders or back pain caused by inadequate office furniture. More than 141,000 new cases and nearly 300,000 pre-existing cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders were reported 2011/12 ( Health and Safety Executive).

Unsuitable chair...

One of the biggest causes of back pain can be caused by sitting in an unsuitable, faulty or broken chair set at the incorrect height at an office desk, workstation or workshop bench. Forty per cent of office workers have said they had not been supplied with any “vital desk equipment”, and “few were making use” of back supports or wrist supports.

In some instances, long periods of awkward or cramped posture are caused because a work chair can no longer be adjusted to the correct height and it’s not uncommon for chair arms or legs to be broken or missing.

How many times has a chair back been seen, which has worked itself loose and is no longer able to provide adequate support without additional padding or cushions taped or strapped to itself? Only when the chair eventually gives way, and an accident takes place with a worker suffering an injury, does the item become finally discarded in the company stockroom or warehouse.

Legal requirement...

Despite being a legal requirement, half of office workers have said that they had not received a workstation risk assessment in the preceding 12 months. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 instructs employers to assess any risks to the wellbeing of their employees and put in place appropriate measures to prevent accidents or personal injury.