By law, employers must carry out risk assessments on computer workstations and the employees who use them. This includes homeworkers. A risk assessment should cover all aspects of the task and workplace.
These aspects will include:
- the physical layout of equipment and furniture
- the job being done
- the user's posture
- any special needs of staff
- the need for rest breaks
- the general office environment
Where you identify a problem, you must take steps to reduce the risk to staff.
It's good practice to arrange a re-assessment if there are any changes affecting the workstation or the user directly. For example, if new equipment or furniture is brought in, a re-assessment will help identify the best ergonomic layout. Similarly, when an employee informs you that she is pregnant, a review should be carried out urgently and repeated regularly as the pregnancy develops. Where an employee reports a repetitive strain injury, a re-assessment should be carried out to help prevent a recurrence of symptoms.
Using a checklist
Employees who are involved in risk assessments are more likely to report any problems as they occur. A good way of doing this is to get staff to fill in an ergonomic best practice checklist covering each aspect of the workstation. You should get completed checklists reviewed by an assessor who has been trained to help identify any problems and find a solution.