Three-quarters of computer users still not sitting pretty

01 Jan
by Clearworld, posted in Blog, Employees, Employers, Health, Health and Safety   |  No Comments

Around 75 per cent of regular computer users still aren’t aware of the principles of good workstation posture, according to research carried out by Clearworld Health & Safety. The consequences of poor posture include neck, back and shoulder pain, as well as joint problems and even increased stress.

Having prepared risk assessments for over 10,000 regular computer users, I consistently find that a tiny minority of computer users experience no problems at all.

Computers are as integral to our lives as phones and TVs, yet the majority of people still don’t seem to be aware of how to use them safely. A few simple changes in the way you sit at your desk can easily prevent the onset of long-term health problems.

Following these five simple tips will help you remain safely seated at work:

  • Make sure the height of your chair is adjusted so your elbows are level with the desk and the backrest is at a comfortable angle.
  • There’s an art to sitting properly! Perching on the edge of the chair or leaning forward provides no support for your back. Sit as far back in the chair as possible, so you can feel the backrest support where your back curves inwards.
  • Prevent twisting and stretching by ensuring the PC screen is directly in front of you, with the keyboard and mouse close enough to have your arms in a comfortable L-shape.
  • Accessorise if necessary. If your feet aren’t resting flat on the floor, get a footrest. If your wrists are titled upwards when using the keyboard or mouse, get a wrist rest.
  • Screen breaks should be taken for about five minutes an hour – this can simply mean letting your eyes focus on a different part of the room.

Many owners of small companies aren’t aware that they are legally obliged to have up-to-date health and safety documentation (including workstation risk assessments) if they employ five people or more. For a competent risk assessor to carry out these risk assessments, please visit clearworld.co.uk. For a 10% discount, please mention DOHR at the time of booking.

Haydn Glick (Tech IOSH), Clearworld Health & Safety Ltd.

Recharge the Batteries

07 Dec
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Annual Leave, Blog, Employees, Employers   |  No Comments

The festive season is nearly upon us, the new year is looming, staff are flagging and lookingHoliday forward to a few days off. If you work in retail – not a chance, prepare for the onslaught – Christmas and the January sales. If you work in an office or a manufacturing environment, you might be in luck. Many offices and factories close for at least the three bank holidays, some even close for the three working days between Christmas and New Year. Us, well we are closing for a few extra days as well.

We all need a break and recharging the batteries is absolutely essential to achieving an engaged workforce who are healthy, motivated and highly focused on delivering a fantastic service to clients. In many companies the annual leave (holiday) year runs in line with the annual calendar and therefore for many, this is the last opportunity to take unused holiday time. Many companies operate a ‘use it or lose it’ policy and as long as they have given employees  the opportunity to use the time, the onus is on the employee to ensure they ‘claim’ everything they are entitled to.

It is really important that an annual leave policy is clearly documented: that staff know when they can take their holiday, what their entitlement is, how bank holidays are treated and are aware of any ‘black out periods’ when the business is at it’s busiest and holiday can not be taken.

Rules such as the number of staff allowed to be off at any one time and any priority given to parents required to take leave during the school holidays should be communicated so that expectations are managed appropriately.

Good practice dictates that managers ensure leave is spread throughout the year and that staff know what holiday time they have left. They should be encouraged to have used at least half of their leave before the end of Q3 with the rest of their leave planned, authorised and booked appropriately.

Holiday pay can be confusing for some employees and the complexity may occur with part time or term time only staff. It is essential that the contract of employment provides the formula for calculating holiday pay and / or holiday entitlement. All entitlements for part time staff must be pro rated based on the full time entitlements i.e. if the normal working week is 40 hours and an employee works 20 hours, they are a 0.5 full time equivalent (FTE). Therefore the annual leave entitlement is pro rated and if the full time employee has 30 days holiday including bank holidays, the part time employee has 15 days including the public and bank holidays which fall on their normal working days.

Ensure your employees have the opportunity to recharge their batteries – it will be better for your business.Christmas holidays

Signage Requirements Relaxed

28 Nov
by Clearworld, posted in Blog, Health and Safety   |  1 Comments

With the best will in the world, I do sometimes sense that some of my clients find the requirements of health & safety signage a bit unnecessary at times. Is it really necessary to display a “fire exit” sign above the only way out of the building? Is it really necessary to display “fire route” signage pointing people down stairs (rather than up)?… and is it really necessary to display a “no smoking” sign, stating “it is against the law to smoke in these premises” at every entrance to the building?

Well, the good news is that in line with the government’s desire to reduce the burden on small business of excessive health & safety demands, some of the signage requirements have now been relaxed, and a more common-sense approach will now satisfy legal requirements.

A new set of Regulations have been published called The Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2012, which have replaced the Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2007. The major change in the new Regulations is that it is now no longer necessary to display a no-smoking sign of a specific size, shape and content at each entrance to the smoke-free premises. It is now only necessary to display at least one legible no-smoking sign within smoke-free premises, of any size, shape or content.

As far as fire exit and fire route signage is concerned, this has to comply with the requirements of the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. These Regulations are specific in requiring pictogram signage of certain shape, size and colour. The location of these signs should be determined within the fire risk assessment for your premises, which should be carried out by a competent person.

If a building is very small with a very simple layout, then a reasonable fire risk assessor should take this into account, apply common sense and not require fire exit or fire route signage to be displayed. If however, there could potentially be any uncertainty as to the best way out of a building during a fire evacuation, then conforming signage should be displayed.

If your premises is in need of a fire risk assessment to be carried out by a competent risk assessor, applying common sense, please visit clearworld.co.uk. For a 10% discount, please mention DOHR at the time of booking.

Haydn Glick (Tech IOSH), Clearworld Health & Safety Ltd.

Show you care

26 Nov
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Benefits, Blog, Employees, Fit notes, Health, sickness   |  No Comments

Getting the benefits package right for your staff is important for their motivation and engagement, but it can be even more important for your business.

When a member of staff goes off sick, there is an impact on productivity and in some cases other members of the team will need to step in to ensure things get done. But when a member of staff has a longer term condition the disruption to the business could be significant. The aim would be to get the employee fit and back to work as quickly as possible.

Waiting for appointments on the NHS could take up to 18 weeks and this is before you are even seen by a specialist, never mind being treated. The impact on business can be huge – so what can an employer do?

With the increasing pressure on and cut backs within the NHS, more and more people are turning to the private medical sector. Employers who are able are providing their employees with private medical insurance. This benefit makes staff feel valued, but also gets employees treated and back into the workplace as soon as reasonably practical. It is important that employees are supported while they are off, but equally, it is important to ensure the business is able to function efficiently with all staff performing at their optimum level.

There is a range of providers and group schemes work in several different ways. In some cases each employee will have their own policy, in some cases usually for larger companies,  it is a group scheme and often with an individual employee’s medical history disregarded. In larger companies partners or families are often also insured for senior members of management, while in other companies some or all of the staff are able to pay for family members to be covered at the corporate discount rate.

Providing private medical insurance is a cost to your business, but it can also provide long term cost savings and be a way of protecting your business, keeping staff healthy and in work longer.

The Dreaded Appraisal

22 Oct
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, HR Consultancy, HR Policy, HR Support, Performance Management, Policies and Procedures   |  No Comments

Results sign postThis time of year, we find many of our clients want to take the opportunity to appraise staff. Of course there is no hard and fast rule as to when to do this and some companies will link appraisals to the financial year end, the end of the calendar year or the employee’s anniversary with the company.

It’s important for every business to have an appraisal process in place as part of its general performance management framework. Staff must have objectives set that are aligned to the business goals and these are often cascaded down through any management structures which exist within the organisation.  Appraisals are  also an excellent tool for keeping  staff fully engaged with the business as they help them to understand the business and to set their personal goals to that they contribute to future success.

An appraisal is an opportunity to step off the rat wheel, to step back from the daily grind and to review successes and failures with the benefit of hindsight. Activities and progress from the last year should be discussed and lessons learnt turned into positives. Nothing should be raised in an annual appraisal which has not already been discussed in a timely fashion throughout the year. This is a review and summarise activity which plays a significant role for future goal setting. Any areas for concern or opportunities for development should be discussed in an open and honest way during the appraisal.

There are four stages to an effective appraisal:

  1. Preparation
  2. Meeting
  3. Write up
  4. Follow through

Preparation

Preparation for both the appraiser (manager) and appraisee (employee) is essential. The appraiser should ensure that the appraisee has all the paperwork at least a week before their meeting. The manager should ask the employee to work through the paperwork, filling it all in with their opinions, thoughts and views. Having a copy of last years appraisal or any interim reviews, targets etc. would be a useful starting point for reviewing the year.

The manager also needs to prepare and they should go through the same process for each of their direct reports.

The Meeting

The meeting is a two way process. It is an open and honest discussion, during which the appraisal form is jointly completed. While the employee has a significant input, if the appraiser and appraisee can not agree, it is the appraisers view which is documented and the appraisee has the opportunity to make their views known in a comments box. Examples and feedback from others are particularly powerful in an appraisal meeting.

Write it up

Following the meeting, the paperwork is finalised. Despite any differences of opinion in the meeting, the appraisers view is what is documented, hopefully with consensus. The employee should get the opportunity to add their comments and should be given a final copy of their appraisal form.

Follow up

Once complete, businesses do one of two things with the appraisal documentation. Many will just put it in the personnel file and forget about it until next year. Successful organisations however, will bring the document to life, making it a working, evolving and directive tool for guiding progress and development throughout the next 12 months. The documentation should be used in monthly or quarterly 121 meetings and updated where appropriate as roles change, the business evolves and set objectives are met.

Does your business carry out appraisals? Do you see a benefit in them or are they a waste of time? Do you even look at your appraisal notes during the year? We would love to know your views.

For help and assistance with any of your appraisal needs from policy to forms or training, we are happy to help.

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