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Hot Topic Highlight – Are You Working Comfortably?

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Building a better you

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What is today's blog about?

In this week’s blog, we take a look at an issue which affects our personal and professional lives; safe and healthy workstation use, together with relevant guidance and legislation.

This is particularly relevant given the requirement for home working due to Covid-19. It is also very topical for your RICS APC in relation to the mandatory health & safety competency.

You can also listen to our CPD podcast on Anchor for more free AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.

If you don't have time to read our full blogs, you can watch our short CPD summary videos on YouTube.

What is the issue?

Many of us who are now working from home do not have the ideal workstation set up in our homes. This might be a familiar concept if you are reading this at the dining table or on the sofa! 

This can lead to a range of Musculoskeletal (MSK) symptoms such as back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as headaches, eye strain and general fatigue. Combined with more general, workplace and APC stress, this can be very bad news for your health and wellbeing.

What legislation or guidance do I need to be aware of?

Tying this nicely into your RICS APC revision, RICS Surveying Safely (2nd Edition) states that the risks associated with the use of workstations should be avoided by:

  • Analysing workstations to assess and reduce risks

  • Ensuring that workstations meet specific minimum requirements

  • Planning work activities so that they include breaks or changes of activity

  • Providing information and training

Workstations should be set up to address the comfort of the user, i.e. room to move freely, adjustable chair and screen, as well as the wider room conditions, i.e. lighting, glare and reflection.

The RICS position stems from the HSE guidance on the use of Display Screen Equipment (DSE). This is guided by the Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, which applies to fixed workstations, mobile workers, home workers and hot-desking.

What other issues relate to home working?

The HSE have also published specific guidance on how to work safely from home. This includes guidance on lone working without supervision, stress and mental health. These are all very important issues at a difficult time.

If you are struggling with any of these issues, then we fully endorse the support provide by LionHeart, the charity for RICS professionals and their families.

What are our 5 top tips for setting up your home workstation?

1) Ensure that your monitor is at eye level, with the top 1/3 of the screen being in line with your eyes and at arms’ distance away

2) Your elbows should be relaxed at your side, at a 90-120° angle and with your wrists flat, not bent at the keyboard

3) Make sure your chair is raised high enough, with your feet flat on the ground and a 90-120° angle at your hips

4) Tuck your chair close to the desk, so that you are not leaning forward

5) Your lower back should be supported by the lumbar support of the chair or with a cushion

The HSE also provide a useful checklist to help you to set up your workstation.

Here are our bonus tips for keeping yourself healthy when working from home…

1) Spend time standing – invest in a monitor and a keyboard stand that you can raise up/down, varying your posture regularly throughout the day

2) Take phone calls standing up or walking around

3) Use a headset when on the phone rather than holding it to your ear with your shoulder

4) Set a timer – the Stand Up! app can be tailored to specific times of the day and remind you when to stand and for how long

5) Keep regular used items close by and don’t keep files on the floor or behind you where you have to bend or twist to reach them. If you can’t avoid this, then take it as an opportunity to get up!

6) Do not look at your computer or phone screen 1 hour before you head to bed to help improve sleep patterns

How can we help?

From experience, we know that it is cheaper to buy a wireless keyboard, headset and a variable height stand, than it is for a course of treatment with a MSK specialist to correct posture related symptoms such as headache, neck and back pain.

However, even if you have these tools then setting up your home workstation correctly is essential to ensure that you can use them comfortably. Whilst your local MSK specialist is likely to be closed, we are working with a qualified Chiropractor to provide remote support on a wide range of issues, including remote workstation set up, posture assessment and self-treatment of a range of symptoms.

You can sign up for your own bespoke support via our Hourly Mentoring service.

How can we help?

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you

N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.


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