Are employers failing to ensure the safety of computer-based workers?
16th October 2013
Office workers might think their workplace is reasonably safe, and that their likelihood of making an industrial disease claim or an accident at work compensation claim is very limited. While the hazards in offices can usually be handled in-house, there are still a number of dangers that can lead to preventable injuries, with the use of computers one of the most significant.
Computers are one of the most common features of the modern office – I am sat at a computer in an office now, and the personal injury solicitors at Clearwater Solicitors spend a lot of time number-crunching, communicating and word-processing while sat at computer desks. People frequently assume that they know how to use a computer safely without putting their body under any hazardous stress, but poor posture and improper technique is very common, and the injuries these bad habits can lead to can cause lifelong problems.
What Are An Employer’s Duties?
Many employers fail in their duty of care towards office-based workers who regularly use computers – companies themselves are frequently unaware of the potential hazards computers can cause. However, this negligence could lead to industrial accident claims, accident at work compensation claims, employee absences and poor worker morale, so dealing with the dangers of computer use is strongly recommended.
Employers should therefore provide their staff with adequate information and training on proper computer use. This could be in the form of a training pack or induction process that new workers have to go through and sign off on to confirm that they completed and understood the training.
As well as training, employers must also ensure that employee workstations are safe and appropriate – it is no use telling staff to sit with a proper posture if they are forced into a cramped workstation! Workloads can also be a factor in workplace injury claims involving desk-based workers – staff should be able to leave their workstation, stretch their legs and give their eyes a rest regularly.
While computer safety training is not legally mandatory, failing to provide it could see employers deemed to have failed in their duty of care towards their staff, leaving them liable in personal injury claims.
Accident At Work Claims Caused By Computer Use
Some of the different health problems personal injury solicitors see that are caused by inappropriate computer problems include:
– Eye problems
While there has not yet been any conclusive proof linking prolonged computer use with vision loss or blindness, some of the common problems office workers complain of include blurred vision, pain to the eyes, headaches, watering of the eyes, dryness of the eyes or a burning sensation. Regular ‘screen breaks’ can prevent these problems from arising.
– Musculoskeletal disorders
Typing at a computer desk can lead to repetitive strain injury, while poor posture can cause back and neck problems, which can be surprisingly severe. Many aches and pains caused by computer use are seen by no win no fee solicitors – almost every part of the body can be injured when people sit for long periods of time at a computer desk.