Back to the Future with Emma

Friday, 14 February 2020 11:01

Back to the Future with Emma – DSE Workstation Design.

Emma DSE 200x300

Say hello to ‘Emma’, a life-sized representation of how we could look in 20 years’ time if we continue working with poor posture and inadequate DSE workstation design.

Walking through most office settings, I usually see several people with the wrong DSE workstation design setup for them. The ill-effects can take years to develop and a new life-sized model called “Emma” brings to life the potential impact of modern workstations on our bodies.

A team of experts in occupational health, ergonomics, and well-being was commissioned by office equipment firm Fellowes. They surveyed over 3000 workers in the UK, France and Germany, and confirmed the effects that office workplaces have on employee health.

Model specialists Helix 3D Ltd created a life-sized model called “Emma” to demonstrate the potential effects on our bodies.  “Emma” has developed many health problems as you will see below.

 “The Work Colleague of the Future report shows that employers and workers really need to act now and address the problem of poor workplace health”. William Higham

The effect on staff health, morale and productivity is well known. Since 1990 employer’s have had legal requirement, under the DSE (display screen equipment) regulations, to carry out a DSE workstation risk assessment for a:-

  • New employee
  • New workstation
  • Change to existing workstation or the way it is used
  • User complaint of pain or discomfort

Changing Office Environments

Increasing numbers of people work with computers, laptops and related equipment. In the old days of a personal desk, a worker would set up their chair, foot rest and monitor based on their personal preferences. We now see open plan spaces, shared desks, hot-desking and home working. This means that office workers can no longer assume that the chair and monitor has not been changed by the previous occupant. Rarely has the individual been trained so will not know to adjust the workstation back to their settings.

For taller or shorter people the average chair and desk setup won’t be suitable. Special requirements may also apply for an employee with a disability or pre-existing health condition.

The use of laptops provide other problems as workers often use them in a mobile environment. Ideally laptops should be used with an adjustable shelf but very often they are used on normal seating in a café, client office or train.

While the legislation applies to employers for office, mobile and home workers, it is also in the interest of self employed workers to both understand and use their office equipment safely.

Warning Signs

Long term effects on the body

Typical signs of incorrect working practices include:-

  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • back pain
  • swollen or painful wrists
  • eye strain
  • migraine
  • sick days

The long term effects displayed by “Emma” can take years to develop but that look into the future is something we should all investigate for our own health and to prevent future legal claims.

If you haven’y trained your team in DSE, Ergonomics and workplace design, or carried out a DSE risk assessment, get in touch to arrange it. You can call Michelle on 0161 298 1040 or complete the contact form.


Michelle Hay Training

Contact: Michelle Hay ACIEH Tech IOSH

  • 0161 298 1040
  • 07968 749257
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