Using screens in the workplace is associated with a wealth of problems, from neck, shoulder, arm and back pain to fatigue and eye strain. A high proportion of people who use display screen equipment in the workplace report aches, pains and general discomfort, and while the HSE says most of these conditions don’t indicate a serious problem, it makes sense to avoid them.
Employees who are taken care of and feel comfortable during the working day are much more likely to be productive. The key to working comfortably at a desk or in front of a screen lies in taking regular breaks, making staff change their posture rather than sitting in the same position day in day out.
A simple plan of action funded by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health could be an answer to this problem.
The industry body teamed up with Derby University academics to explore options that would encourage workers to take more breaks. They found that planning for breaks made the biggest change in screen workers’ behaviour.
During the study 195 people were split into groups. Group one was simply asked to take more breaks, group two told to draw up a plan for taking breaks, group three was given an hourly prompt from a buzzing device, while group four had a buzzer in addition to a formal break plan.
While the study found the buzzer didn’t increase break-taking by a significant amount, participants reported that the simple act of wearing the device encouraged them to get up more.
The key to enhanced break-taking seems to be the simple task of advanced planning. However, there were additional increases in taking postural breaks in offices where employees understood the benefits and were backed by senior management. There were also improvements when management made changes to the environment to support increased breaks.
If you like further information on break-taking and the benefits for screen workers, the OHBM team can help. Small changes to your workplace can lead to big improvements for your business.