Occupational health and hygiene focus on the physical and mental wellbeing of employees in the workplace, including exposure to noise, vibration, hazardous substances and chemicals.
The Aim of Occupational Health
- The aim of occupational health is to prevent work-related illness and injury by:
- encouraging safe working practices;
- ergonomics (studying how you work and how you could work better);
- monitoring the health of the workforce;
- supporting the management of sickness absence.
- An occupational health service might also:
- Encourage employees to work with their employers to implement policies and ensure health and safety compliance
- support health promotion and education programmes;
- provide advice and counselling to employees around non-health-related problems;
- Suggest employees provide their employers with information and ideas to make or allow reasonable adjustments to working conditions.
How is Occupational Health Provided?
- Further information can be provided by following this link:
Preventing Hazards and Assessing Risks
- Aspects that require monitoring could include:
- Working hours
- Workplace Policies e.g. Maternity Leave
- Noise or Vibration
- Substances Hazardous to Health, e.g. solvents; fumes; dusts or biological agents
- Risk Factors in the Workplace may lead to:
- Respiratory diseases
- Hearing loss
- Musculoskeletal diseases
- Stress related disorders
- Further information on all the above topics can be found on the HSE UK web site - Please follow the link at the bottom of this page.
Guidance for Display Screen Equipment Users
- Self Assessment Checklist
- The purpose of this form is to identify those employees who would be considered to be 'Users' of Display Screen Equipment (DSE) i.e. computer users, so that the employer can comply with the Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987.
- It is also designed to help the User identify whether or not some of the most common problems arising from DSE use are present in their workstation or working arrangements.
- The most common risk factors arising from DSE use are:
- Musculoskeletal problems
- These range from temporary fatigue and discomfort to chronic aches, pains and debilitating soft tissue disorders. Parts of the body affected include the wrists, fingers, arms, shoulders and back. Musculoskeletal problems are caused by poor or static posture, such as sitting for long periods without adequate lumbar support for your back, holding your arms and wrists in an awkward position whilst keying or using the mouse because your chair is not adequately adjusted, not taking sufficient breaks from screen work.
- Visual fatigue
- Visual fatigue can be caused by such factors as poor adjustment of screen brightness and contrast controls, an unstable or flicking image on the screen, glare reflected on the screen, insufficient lighting to read source documents, concentrating for prolonged periods.
- This can be caused by the user having little or no control over their work content or the pace they work, excessive work loads, tight deadlines, repetitive or monotonous tasks.
- Basic requirements for workstations
- These are some basic requirements for setting up a workstation so that it promotes good posture and safe working practices:
- The Chair should be capable of adjustment of the seat height, backrest and backrest tilt. The backrest should offer adequate lumbar support, which should be able to be adjusted to suit the individual user. The seat height should be adjusted so that the user can sit with their shoulders in a relaxed position and their elbows at a 90-degree angle, with the upper arms vertical and forearms horizontal whilst keying and using the mouse. Hands should just rest on keyboard, in a neutral position (flat) avoiding excessive flexion (wrist bent down), extension (wrist bent up) or deviation of the wrists (turning left and right). The mouse should be positioned so that the user can operate it whilst maintaining their elbow at 90-degree angle. There should be space in front of the keyboard for the user to rest their hands in between keying.
- The Screen should be positioned directly in front of the user and be at a height so that the user's line of vision is approximately 5 cm from the top of the screen.
- The chair seat should have sufficient depth to accommodate the user without pressure on the backs of the thighs or knees. The angle of the seat should enable the user to sit with their hips raised slightly above their knees, so that their pelvis is rotated forward thereby helping the spine to maintain its natural 'S' shaped curve. The user's feet should be able to rest flat on the floor or be provided with a footrest.
- There should be sufficient space on the work surface to accommodate any equipment or items the user may need to perform their job. There should be sufficient space under the desk or workstation for the user's legs to enable them to change position as required.
- It is vital that Computer users take regular breaks from screen based work, stretch and reposition in order to avoid excessive static loading of their muscles and tendons, which leads to fatigue and upper limb disorders. It is important to take breaks before fatigue sets in, otherwise there will be insufficient time to recover. The HSE recommends a five minute break every hour, as a minimum. The User should also take frequent mini breaks from viewing the screen by focusing on something different from the screen in order to avoid visual fatigue.
- More information is available in the HSE's booklet "Working with display screen equipment (DSE)" available from the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg36.pdf
- Eyesight Tests for DSE Users
- The employer has a duty to provide an eyesight test, or cost towards an eye test, for employees who habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal working activity.
- The maximum amount of money that can be claimed for an eyesight test should be set out in the employer's human resources policies, together with any entitlement for part reimbursement of any glasses or corrective lenses used exclusively for DSE. Users have the choice of using the employer's nominated Opticians or their own optician.
- Self-assessment checklist for DSE Users
- To assist employers in assessing the workstation, the employee should complete the self-assessment give it to their manager, who will put in place measures to address problems or arrange a more detailed assessment by a competent DSE assessor.
The Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987
- The Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987 states that -
- 'It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of his employees'.
- Maximum / Minimum Temperature in a Working Environment
- What should the temperature be?
- Each year, especially when the weather is very hot or cold, we receive numerous calls from employees and employers as to what the maximum / minimum temperature should be.
- Unfortunately there is no straight forward answer that would encompass all different types of working environment.
- A 'minimum' temperature for workrooms of at least 16ºC (62ºF) if the job is sedentary is recommended. If much of the work involves severe physical effort, then this temperature changes to 13ºC (56ºF).
- A 'maximum' temperature is not recommended as once again it depends on the work involved. Catering establishments are notoriously 'hot' places.
How to Ensure Comfortable Working Temperatures
- Some simple ways to ensure thermal comfort in hot weather:
- 1. Ensure that windows can be opened (screened / filtered if necessary)
- 2. Shade windows with blinds or reflective film
- 3. Provide fans, e.g. desk, pedestal or ceiling mounted
- 4. Allow sufficient breaks to enable employees to get cold drinks or to cool down
- Some simple ways to ensure comfort in cold weather:
- 1. Provide adequate heating in the workplace or local heating such as temporary heaters
- 2. Reduce draughts
- 3. Provide insulated duck boards or other floor covering or special footwear, where workers have to stand for long periods on cold floors
- 4. Provide the appropriate type of protective clothing.