Safe Work Australia warns on prolonged sitting when working from home

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 13 July, 2020 - 12:30
Industry news
National News

One of the most significant factors impacting work health and safety when working from home is prolonged sitting, according to Safe Work Australia.

This year has seen an increase in desk-based workplaces transitioning to, or increasing existing, working from home arrangements to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Workplaces across the country have had to adapt their policies and procedures and consult with workers to ensure WHS requirements are met even if workers are at home.

Safe Work Australia has released a range of guidance materials and other resources for employers to assist with compliance through the coronavirus pandemic.

Information and resources on WHS duties and WHS risks associated with working from home are available online.

Safe Work Australia also pointed out that workers have a responsibility to take steps and avoid prolonged periods of sitting when working from home.

“When working from home, the model WHS laws still apply. Just as in the office, your workstation must be set up in a way that is safe, comfortable and easy to use,” the regulator said.

“A workstation that is set up incorrectly can create poor postures leading to injury and eye strain.

“The length of time that you sit in these postures also adds to the risk for injury and health problems associated with long periods of sitting.

“What you need to do to set up a safe workstation depends on the work you do, your environment and your individual needs.

“You have a duty to take care for your own health and safety while working from home and must follow any reasonable policies or directions your employer gives you about setting up your home-based workstation.”

Safe Work Australia recently announced its support of BeUpstanding, a free evidence-based program designed to address the WHS risks associated with prolonged sitting.

Employers and businesses can trial BeUpstanding to gain access to resources and guidance on how to encourage workers to stand up, sit less and move more.

The BeUpstanding toolkit includes fact sheets, videos and email templates which are tailored to desk-based workers working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.