safety in the workplace, public sector

With scientists predicting a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections, on 22 September the UK Government announced a new round of measures to “confront the COVID-19 virus”

These included a wide range of new and sometimes confusing rules which have been met with widespread criticism. One area of clarity however was the clear message “You should work from home if you can”. Working from home is now considered by many as “The New Normal” and businesses in both the public and private sector have adapted quickly to accommodate this change.

The new workplace

The basic work from home ‘kit’ typically includes a laptop, software, a head set, stationery, online access to process, sales and management systems and of course “Zoom”.  These are seen as the essential tools needed to get employees up and running and able to perform their job from the comfort of their own home.

“Comfort of their own home”, is a common phrase used by many, but safety in the workplace has for more than decade had a strong focus on improved ergonomics with adjustable chairs, workstations, keyboards and monitors. All these types of equipment are designed to reduce discomfort and the risk of injury and help improve productivity and wellbeing.

By law, employers are responsible for the health and safety of all employees, including those working from home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s unreasonable to expect employers to carry out their usual health and safety risk assessments at every employee’s home.

However, an employer should still ensure every employee feels the work they’re being asked to do at home can be done safely and ensure employees have the right equipment to work safely. Whilst many may already have a suitable home office, many are forced to use the kitchen or dining room table and chair.

Having done the dining room table and chair routine myself I know what a pain in the back it can be. Back and neck pain lead to headaches, a loss of focus and productivity follows, mistakes creep in and a couple of paracetamol and lying down on the sofa for half an hour follows soon after. This is not conducive to a culture of health and safety in the workplace.

Sitting for an extended time at a desk, behind the wheel of a car or in front of a screen is definitely not good for you. Prior studies have found sitting more than eight hours a day with no physical activity was much the same as the risk of death from obesity and smoking.

Since findings like these have been published there has been a sharp rise in the popularity of standing desks. However, standing all day rather than sitting does not solve all the problems associated with sitting all day and as with most things a healthy balance lies somewhere between.

Standing desks?

Standing desks are expensive pieces of equipment and not something typically included in the basic work from home kit being provided by employers during COVID-19. I’ve seen many ’20 tips for working at home’ type articles, which suggest stacking books under your laptop allowing you to work from a standing position as an easy and free alternative to investing in a standing desk. Having tried this myself, pro-tip ~ it’s a terrible idea, oh and before you try it, a cardboard box is an equally terrible idea too.

All is not lost though; British ingenuity has once again come up with a solution for improving safety in the workplace. So assuming – the risk of death from smoking and obesity – revelation got you to your feet reading this article, sit down, take a load off and let’s take a look at something that ticks all the boxes as an ideal addition to the basic work from home kit and something in terms of cost that is included in the Government’s home working expenses list.

Mojostand” is a UK start-up which was conceived and launched as a direct result of the COVID-19 working from home world, we now find ourselves in.  At around 5% of the cost of a typical standing desk, this ingenious patented design, which is lightweight, portable and can be assembled in seconds also has an adjustable height feature, perfect for the sub 6 foot vertically challenged group I find myself in.

According to mojostand it’s “100% recyclable and FSC Sustainably Certified. Supporting an impressive 12kg on each platform, you can use your favourite monitor with confidence, as well as choose your desired height with its exclusive 3 sizes in 1 design.”

Upon contacting mojostand, to enquire about interest in their new workstation, they confirmed “many large organisations in the UK have already embraced mojostand and global interest has resulted in additional manufacturing and distribution capabilities being setup in Europe, America and Australia”.

With COVID-19 lockdown restrictions set to continue for the foreseeable future and working from home looking more and more likely to be a permanent fixture post COVID-19, I predict a meteoric rise for mojostand and wish them well in their endeavours.

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