Ita Leyden – Ergonomist & Forensic Engineer answers your work related health and safety queries as part of our monthly Q&A session.
I am the manager of a small office with 6 employees. Someone mentioned to me recently that the computer workstations needed to be assessed under health and safety legislation. Can you please tell me if this is true, and also, if it is necessary, how can we do this without incurring excessive cost?
Thank you for your email. In short, yes, employers must carry out an assessment of employee workstations where the employee uses a computer workstation daily and continuously for at least 1 hour per day. The specific legislation relating to this assessment – known as VDU or Visual Display Unit assessment is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007, Chapter 5 of Part 2.
The aim of the assessment is to identify any issues that might cause harm either because of the way the workstation is set up or because of the immediate environmental conditions such as noise and temperature. During the assessment, consideration needs to be given to the potential for work to cause or contribute to musculoskeletal disorders, or harm to eyesight or mental stress. Very importantly, the assessment must be carried out by someone who has the appropriate training, experience and knowledge.
In relation to cost, you can either have one of the employees trained as a VDU assessor (this typically is a 1 day training course and there are a number of local service providers – perhaps you could contact your local Skillnet for information on subsidised courses), or you can engage a consultant to carry out the assessments for you – typically costs are based on the number of individual assessments being carried out, and again there are a number of consultants who carry out this work locally. When choosing a consultant, it is always worth enquiring if they are members of a recognised professional body such as IOSH (Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) or IES (Irish Ergonomics Society).
Finally, research suggests that 1 in 3 adults will suffer from a musculoskeletal disorder – reducing the risk by investing in workstation assessments would be a very wise investment!
One of our qualified safety consultants can give you their expert opinion on any health, safety and ergonomic queries.
For more information or if you have any other queries which you would like addressed contact info@LCE.ie.