Health and safety is a touchy area. Not least because doing something small can have astronomical consequences.
But what happens when these “health and safety” problems are as a direct result of, or are accelerated by, a lazy or sedentary lifestyle? Who’s responsibility is it to pay for the supporting equipment? How can we be sure that employees aren’t simply ‘playing the game’? Is it even worth the risk of trying to find out?
For example, I used to work with a girl who was exceptionally lazy. She barely moved from her desk, except to walk to the fridge for coke and food. She was overweight and already had pre existing medical conditions (arguably due to weight) before she joined the company.
She hadn’t been employed 6 months before she rang the “Health and Safety” alarm, citing repetitive strain injury. In the weeks that followed, the company paid out for desk assessments, physio, time off, etc. No cost was too much because her boss was scared shitless of being sued. Next up came the £900 chair and matching foot rest, before I was personally asked to keep reminding this girl to get up and go for a walk.
Since when was it a Health and Safety directive that the office PA has to remind people to go for walks?
Do we live in society that there is such a culture of blame that we need someone to go round companies, telling people that their computer screen is 2 millimetres too low?
When will it become acceptable for companies to start standing up to the people who play the game, without fear of massive financial losses? It seems that companies are in a lose-lose situation when it comes to health and safety.
What happens when an employee has a pre existing medical condition when they join your company? Who’s responsibility is it to provide the correct equipment? Equality laws state that you cannot discriminate, so what can an employer do? Be forced to hire someone who hurt their neck playing sports as a teenager but who now needs one of those fancy ass chairs to help prevent “flare ups”? The fancy ass chairs that the manufacturers charge you around £900 for! (These seem to be literally the only item not to come down in price as they get more popular). How is that fair?
Then what happens when that person moves to another company? The new company then needs to pay out £900 for the same chair. The fancy ass chair company is laughing all the way to the bank!
How about making employees pay for their own equipment? They could then take it with them when they move. After all, office workers of old managed to get by on a normal chair without it giving them back spasms and achey arms.
Would this then mean that the wealthy only get the correct equipment and poorer workers are made to suffer? I’m sure the same argument could be applied to things like glasses and dentures. Hell, that argument can be applied to pretty much everything in society these days.
Perhaps some kind of government funding could be set up? I don’t know the answer, but all I do know is that companies are being fleeced left, right and centre when it comes to health and safety.
I for one feel that it’s not fair that companies have to fund, out of their bottom line, specialist equipment for someone who hurt their back playing rugby when they were a teenager.