TUC Urges Employers to Conduct Risk Assessment For Remote Workers As Many Suffer Physical Ailments

TUC Urges Employers to Conduct Risk Assessment For Remote Workers As Many Suffer Physical Ailments
Photo Credits - Keenan Constance via Unsplash

The pandemic ignited an unparalleled wave of global change, notably the surge in remote workers. Despite offering greater flexibility, medical experts have cautioned that this shift is associated with a rise in musculoskeletal issues. Consequently, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged employers to conduct a health and safety risk assessment for remote staff.

Below, we delve into the TUC’s findings, shedding light on the reasons prompting them to publish their recommendations. We then offer insights from the NHS into actions individuals can take to mitigate back and neck pain while working from home.

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TUC Claims Remote Workers Require Risk Assessment

The TUC has called for employers to take responsibility for the welfare of remote workers. This comes after they found instances where companies haven’t extended their obligations regarding health and safety in the workplace to staff working remotely.

Highlighted employer shortcomings included failing to provide adequate equipment, such as supportive desk chairs, and neglecting to foster a culture that encourages flexibility. Accordingly, workers were hesitant to raise concerns with their employers about how their working conditions affected their well-being. This resulted in some individuals working in environments that compromised their health and safety.

READ: Post-Pandemic Workers: What Kind Are You?

Yet despite these setbacks, the TUC doesn’t believe remote working should cease, as it presents individuals with flexibility and productivity gains. Therefore, they’ve provided employers with a series of recommendations to ensure compliance with their legal duties.

Primarily, they’ve advised employers to conduct a risk assessment for any individual working from home, just as they would for any other staff member. Additionally, they’ve suggested companies ensure workers have the necessary equipment to complete their work safely.

Medical Experts Link Back Pain to Remote Working

The links between flexible working and musculoskeletal problems have influenced the demand that remote workers receive a risk assessment. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), cases of back and neck problems have soared from 2.6 to 2.9 million since 2019. Alarmingly, nearly a million individuals are unable to work as a result.

Medical experts attribute this staggering rise to various factors, with changes in work behaviour being a notable cause. Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, stated that “new ways of working, often without the right equipment”, were influential to this problem. Elsewhere, advanced physiotherapist Sam Bhide said “working from home without the right set-up” contributed to chronic back pain.

READ: What HR Leaders Need to Know About Deepfake AI Videos at Work

However, the clearest indication of remote working’s impact on workplace health and safety is once more highlighted by the ONS. Their findings show a significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints related to home working between 2021 and 2022, coinciding with the pandemic’s influence.

Therefore, it’s crucial employers take proactive measures to support remote workers and minimise their risk of developing back pain. As advised by the TUC, one practical measure is to conduct a thorough risk assessment.

Home Office Wellness: Strategies to Prevent Back and Neck Strain

While employers should conduct a risk assessment to prevent their workforce from developing musculoskeletal conditions, individuals can also take steps to minimise these risks.

Advice from the NHS on ‘setting up your home office’ is an excellent place to start. That’s because it outlines simple fixes to common problems that can cause back pain when working from home. The advice highlights that individuals should:

  1. Dock their laptop and use a larger screen that’s at eye level
  2. Utilise a separate keyboard and mouse
  3. Adjust their chair to the most supportive position
  4. Adjust their desk height so that the elbows are at 90 degrees
  5. Remember to move and stretch for a minimum of five minutes every hour
Although employers should provide a risk assessment, individuals can take steps to reduce musculoskeletal issues. Strategies to prevent back pain include:
1. Docking a laptop
2. Adjusting chair & desk for maximum support
3. Utilising a keyboard & mouse
4. Remembering to stretch

By following these steps, individuals can reduce the strain on their necks, backs and other joints, improving their productivity.

If you have any employment law queries concerning any of the discussed topics, please don’t hesitate to contact Redmans Solicitors. They are specialists in the employment law sector with years of experience and could provide expert advice.

We hope you enjoyed reading our article concerning the TUC’s call to provide remote workers with a risk assessment. If you did, subscribe to our newsletter today for updates on our future employment law news.


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