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New evidence reveals that employees, forced to work remotely due to the Coronovirus Lockdown, are at risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries, due to poor posture from not having a well planned, dedicated work station at home.
The YOLO Wellbeing – Home Working Survey identified 60% of respondents are currently working from makeshift positions in the home. Whilst 33% report they are suffering from aches, pain and injuries. Anecdotal evidence suggested that a high number of these are due to poor posture and working conditions at home; with 82% of these injuries either upper limb and neck, and/or back problems.
These results are supported by another new study, the Working at Home Wellbeing Survey 2020 released by the IES(1) (Institute for Employment Studies, April 2020), which also reveals there has been a significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints. More than half of the survey respondents reported new aches and pains, especially in the neck (58 per cent), shoulder (56 per cent) and back (55 per cent), compared to their normal physical condition. Sample 500 respondents.
Labour Force Survey(2) statistics over the last 10 years has identified that a significant number of musculoskeletal injuries can be attributed to working practices. In 2018/19, 37% of all work-related ill health was attributable to musculoskeletal injuries in Great Britain, and 29% of all working days lost due to work related illness.
Introduction and Results
The speed at which the Coronavirus has taken over our lives has challenged us. As individuals, family members, employers and employees we have had to respond, adapt and continue as best we can with our lives and businesses. No one could have planned for what has developed over the last few weeks.
Current Government guidelines for slowing the spread of Coronavirus state that were possible employees should work from home, which has resulted in thousands of individuals required to work from home at short notice,
Some businesses have relocated the whole, or part teams to home working; hurriedly securing IT systems, implementing virtual comms and taking care of their staff welfare. Employees are quickly adjusting to new ways of working,
The YOLO Wellbeing – Home Working Survey (HWS) has been conducted to understand if home working is likely to have an impact on the musculoskeletal health of home workers as a result of less than ideal working conditions and poor posture due to home working behaviours.
We created a short survey and invited employers and employees to let us know how they are working from home and if they are experiencing any early symptoms of musculoskeletal injuries as a result of poor posture and less than ideal work stations.
We received 131 responses, 66% of the respondents reported regularly working more than 3 days a month a home, whilst 34% were forced to work from home due to the Coronavirus. See below for the types of employment roles help by our respondents.
60% of respondents currently working from home didn’t have a dedicated workspace set up in the home.
In 2018-19 over 6.9million working days were lost to musculoskeletal disorders; 41% accounted for workers with upper limb or neck disorders2.
37% of HWS respondents reported they are currently experiencing injuries; of which 82% of respondents reported back and upper limb and neck injuries. Anecdotal evidence on the survey forms included ‘Back and shoulder ache due to poor pose and using dining room chair for 8+ hours’, and ‘Shoulders ache, using a chair from daughters room so not the best position’.
The types and ratio of injuries experienced by the HWS respondents fall roughly in line with the findings of the Labour Force Survey of October 2019; whereby upper limb injuries account for the majority of musculoskeletal injuries, followed closely by back injuries and then lower limb.
It is fair to assume that how individuals work from home can directly affect posture and musculoskeletal health. Whilst 40% of HWS respondents reported having a dedicated working space within the home; that left 60% working from locations that possibly didn’t promote good posture.
The results of the survey indicate a high risk of employees forced to work at home (to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus), may go on to suffer more long term musculoskeletal problems; as 60% of respondents are currently working from makeshift working conditions.
33% of respondents identified they are suffering from aches, pain and injuries. Anecdotal evidence suggested that a high number of these are due to poor posture and working conditions at home; with 82% of these injuries either upper limb and neck, and/or back problems.
It is suggested that as employers, as part of your duty of care, your home working staff will benefit from receiving guidance and information on improving their home working habits to help prevent musculoskeletal challenges in the short and long term.
Sample 136 respondents. (1) Working at Home Wellbeing Survey 2020 released by the IES (Institute for Employment Studies, April 2020 (2)HSE Labour Force Survey October 2019