Its time for a change!
After seeing people with soft tissue problems for over 15 years I have seen a huge change. Now more people use smart phones and tablets than ever, my 5 year old son Harry would use the ipad all day if we didn’t limit it. Muscle and soft tissue problems associated with using technology can often be overlooked. People and organisations can fall into the trap of thinking that a 45min DSE (Display Screen Equipment) assessment, or online tick box assessment will stop problems, unfortunately it will not!!
The current DSE assessment procedure does the bare minimum, and is in most cases quite boring and tedious, this is largely down to whoever carries it out. My team and I recently went through the most up to date version of it, and the instructor was hugely knowledgeable and the information was great. But the attendees with us, completely lacked conviction, confidence and energy. Most of them were people that have roles such as office manager, which means that are excellent at their job, but when it comes to advising and helping their co-workers, people either do not take them seriously or they themselves feel out of their depth. We spoke to one guy from the financial services industry and asked him why he was on the course, he responded “well someone needs to do something, and I am the HR manager so I thought I better come along”
For companies that have qualified Occupational Therapists or Physiotherapists the problem changes, the assessment procedure and processes are the same, and they do not get the chance to help people to the best of their ability. Normally due to the organisation or company not putting soft tissue problems such as neck and back pain high enough on the company agenda.
The difficulty of looking at things from a purely workstation point of view means as soon as that person leaves the seat to use their ipad, laptop or smart phone the set up changes completely. As we all know people will work from many different devices, checking emails from smartphones, working on laptops in airports or in bed. This makes the assessment completely worthless!!
So what is the best approach?
The assessment needs to focus on the body first and foremost, then as part of that the workstation should be taken into account. If someone has a tight neck on one side and is getting tension headaches they need more than just a better chair with the correct screen height. The stumbling block for many organisations is that they can look at these problems and think they are for the individual to sort out in their own time. As the company can only deal with problems at work. Quite frankly that is rubbish, if Joe Bloggs is responding to emails at night from his couch that are part of his job, then he is working. The R.O.I (return on investment) for giving employees more than just a tick box assessment it well documented to be positive. Organisations can and should help employees to understand how they can prevent muscle and soft tissue problems before they become costly to both parties.
It is actually very simple and quite inexpensive to prevent these issues from happening, the 3 things that should be in place are:
- Education – Give employees the right (up-to date advice) from a professional
- Intervention – Deal with current issues, avoid papering over the cracks
- Support – Ensure people have regular access to advice and treatment