In 2020, we are facing the coronavirus pandemic and one of the most adopted and recommended actions to avoid crowds in companies is the telecommutingmainly work at home (Home Office) It is a form of work that we are rapidly adopting to keep our economy running. And, to avoid health problems and / or accidents at work, we need to take some precautions in Home Office, mainly guaranteeing ergonomic practices at home.

For different specialists, ergonomics It is a discipline that seeks to study “the relationship between man and his work, team, environment and, in particular, the application of knowledge of anatomy, physiology and psychology to solve the problems that arise from this relationship.” It seeks to apply “theories, principles, data and methods, to projects that aim to optimize human well-being and the overall performance of systems”, as mentioned in the scientific works of Scallop (2017) and Godoy (2019)

The main objectives of ergonomics are to maintain worker health, safety in the workplace and / or work environment, satisfy the needs and expectations of the worker and the efficiency of the activities carried out. And, in Brazil, who defines the basic requirements that our industries or companies must adopt for ergonomics is the Regulatory Standard (NR 17 – Ergonomics).

The purpose of NR 17 It consists of establishing the parameters related to the lifting, transportation and unloading of materials, furniture, equipment and the environmental conditions of the workplace and the organization of work. These are factors that must be analyzed to adapt working conditions to the psychophysiological characteristics of workers, in order to provide maximum comfort, safety and efficient performance.

THE NR 17 in its item 17.1.2. stresses that “to assess the adaptation of working conditions to the psychophysiological characteristics of workers, it is the employer’s responsibility to carry out an ergonomic analysis of work, which must address, at a minimum, working conditions, as established in the Standard Regulatory “.

Telecommuting Home Office while an activity related to the organization is part of the organizational ergonomics along with other aspects such as the set of work activities carried out, virtual meetings, teamwork, cooperatives and participation. In this case, it is necessary to enable a procedure that allows the individual employee to evaluate the furniture (table and chain), the equipment (keyboard, monitor, telephone) to organize his table and follow rest habits every 50 minutes.

It is important that professionals in the Occupational Safety and Health (OHS) area define a manual with practices, communicate and develop an ergonomic evaluation procedure or define what care must be followed by employees who are in the Home Office. Next, ask us what care we should take.

Impacts on health by Home Office

The new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are causing changes in the working model and in the way we communicate and use information with clients, suppliers, inspection agents, banks, etc. ICTs enable people, family members and co-workers to connect at any time and enable functions or activities in different offices to be carried out at any time, place and distance, even from their home or home.

For the International Labor Organization (ILO), telecommuting or just Home Office It is a work model adopted by companies because it generates an employee perception of autonomy in the number of hours dedicated to work and a satisfaction or reduction of the conflicts that arise between personal commitments and dedication to family and work. . The ILO itself realizes that for professionals who use the Home Office There is a better balance between professional and personal life.

THE ILO It also highlights that for the model Home Office An important problem is the application of the principles of prevention of health and safety at work (OSH) and the control of own legislation or regulatory standards (NR), since there is a natural difficulty in supervising work environments outside the employer’s premises, in this case, the employee’s own residence.

Report of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), entitled “Forecasting new and emerging occupational health and safety risks associated with digitization by 2025“He points out that among the proposed policies for the intensive use of Home Office there is a need to develop and establish actions for a Telework ergonomics or Home Office.

THE EU-OSHA mentions that actions aimed at Home Office They are important because homes or public places are often not suitable for carrying out work activities. The German agency IFA (German Social Security Accident Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) identified that half of the users of laptop complain that working conditions are compromised when working at home for the organization.

Occupational diseases in Home Office

Identify possible occupational diseases in professionals who may perform activities or functions in the Home Office, use ICT and spend several hours in front of the monitor and sitting, our 8mm IdeasTeam used the data provided by the Occupational Health and Safety Observatory (SmartLab). Information that we can use to better understand the impact, difficulties and create a preventive action plan for workers when they start using the Home Office.

In the case of the telemarketing operator, programmer or developer and software designer, the most frequent abandonment of work is due to depression, anxiety, back pain, fracture of the wrist, leg and foot, synovitis or joint disease, bleeding from the beginning of pregnancy, obesity, among others. There are 15 types of licenses registered by CAT (Communication of Work Accidents), in the period from 2012 to 2018, which represent 44% of work accidents in these professions and that we can consider critical for workers. Home Office.

Ranking of the 15 diseases related to office workers – Source: SmartLab (2020)

For the EU-OSHA One of the main advantages of mobile devices (smartphone, notebook, Tablet) is that they allow people to work anywhere, even at home, in public places or on public transport (metro, train, bus). However, portable mobile devices are not ergonomically suitable for long-term use and can cause injury to the upper limbs, neck, and back.

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Changes in work method and activity overload are also contributing to increased repetitive stress injuries (RSI) or work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). It is a disease characterized by the appearance of various concomitant symptoms or not, such as: pain, paresthesia, feeling of heaviness, fatigue, of insidious appearance, generally in the upper extremities, but it can affect the lower extremities, as highlighted by research from Scallop (2017)

Data related to the communication of accidents at work show that the number of notifications by RSI / WRMS per year is on a growth trend in the period from 2007 to 2018, at a rate of 10% per year. Therefore, OSH professionals should also perform an analysis of risk factors in the Home Office for RSI / WMSD, for example, adequacy of the workplace, inappropriate postures, musculoskeletal load, statistical load, cognitive requirements, work-related organizational and psychosocial factors, and pathologies associated with worker function.

RSI / WRMS related notifications per year – Source: SmartLab (2020).

Different surveys indicate that it is challenging for employers to control external work environments and it is difficult to control or monitor how people work (method, posture, time) outside the company office. In this sense, to guarantee Occupational Health and Safety, reduce employee layoffs, and guarantee the quality and productivity of company operations, it is necessary to establish and follow ergonomic procedures at home and sound SSO practices to adopt the model. . Home Office.

Ergonomics in Home Office

In Brazil, the Home Office It is a work model that companies continue to use occasionally and discover the advantages and limitations. It is a model that requires progress in dimensions that characterize employee satisfaction when adopting the Home Office such as, for example, the type of work itself, the model of remuneration, promotion, recognition, benefits, working conditions, supervision, co-workers, and organization and management, as highlighted in the research carried out by Godoy (2019)

Initially, public agencies are the ones that are investing the most in promoting health and preventing occupational diseases, as a result of changes in the way work is organized and some recommendations for Home Office are expressed in Telecommuting Workbook and Technical Notes on Telework.

The intensive use of Home Office by workers in European countries it also has impacts on occupational health and safety. Research carried out by the German Agency IFA It should be noted that around 45% of its workers already carry out activities at home on a regular basis or with high mobility. And, one of the main neglected factors is ergonomics, specifically, they are workers who are manifesting RSI / WRMS diseases.

THE NR 17 stresses that when work is performed in a sitting position, the workstation must be planned or adapted for this position. This means that the SSO professional must evaluate the furniture, the type of seat, the equipment used, the environmental working conditions and the organization of the work. It must also take into account the human factors of the individual that must be integrated with the aspects mentioned by the NR 17.

Practicing ergonomics in Home Office

In the work environment of your home, it is necessary to practice ergonomics evaluating the furniture (table and chair), organizing your table and following rest habits. Next, we highlight a List of articles This makes our workspace more comfortable and helps us feel better when we often work sitting down.

Choose a chair that supports and supports the spine. Use a chair that allows you to adjust the height so that your feet rest on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Use the armrests so that your arms rest on them with your shoulders relaxed.

Under the table, make sure there is room for your knees, thighs, and feet. If the table is too low and cannot be adjusted, place sturdy boards or blocks under the table legs. If the table is too high and cannot be adjusted, raise the chair. Use footrest to support and rest your feet, according to your need for ergonomic comfort. If your table has a hard edge, touch it or use a palm rest. Do not store items or boxes under the table. Remember that the piece of furniture must comply with the requirements described by NR 17.

Keep important items like a phone, stapler, smartphone or printed pages, close to the body to minimize reach. Get up to reach any object that cannot be comfortably reached while sitting.

Place the Mouse at your fingertips and on the same keyboard surface. When writing or using the MouseKeep your wrists straight, your upper arm close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below the elbows. Use keyboard shortcuts to reduce the extended use of Mouse. If possible, adjust the sensitivity of the Mouse so you can use a light touch to operate it. Change the hand you use to operate the Mouse moving the Mouse on the other side of the keyboard.

If you generally talk on the phone and write or write at the same time, put the phone on the speaker or use headphones instead of putting the phone between your head and neck. Use a footrest if your chair is too high to rest your feet on the floor or if the height of your table requires you to increase the height of the chair. When the footrest is not available, try using a small stool or a stack of sturdy books as a support base.

Place the monitor directly in front of you, one arm away. The top of the screen should be at eye level or just below eye level. The monitor should be directly behind the keyboard. If you wear bifocal glasses, lower the monitor by 1 to 2 ″ for a more comfortable viewing. Position the monitor so that the brightest light source is on the side.

In this context, we also recommend establishing actions to correct inappropriate postures and recommendations to control noise, temperature and lighting. Develop and encourage a gymnastics program in the workplace and the habit of breaks, that is, actions that can prevent RSI / WMSD.

For example, prepare a brochure with ergonomic guidelines or to adjust workstations with biomechanical aspects. In addition, use technologies to control periodic medical examinations (audiometry, blood pressure, glucose, among others), training control, Daily Safety Dialogue (DDS) and technologies that improve ergonomics at home.

8mm Ideasis a technology that enables communication and monitoring of ergonomic requirements that employees must adopt and follow in the model. Home Office. The technology offers functionalities for OSH professionals to evaluate the items of NR 17, the Control of Periodic Examinations, Training and Visual Inspections, ensuring preventive actions for the health and safety of teleworkers.

Stay connected on OnSafety

In this period of social isolation, due to the Coronavirus, all members of the 8mm IdeasTeam have been adopting the home Office as a preventive measure. We have several tools that allow agile and secure contact with our clients, suppliers, users, readers, like ours. application, website and email. Our employees are also available for video conference meetings, e-mail, telephone and WhatsApp.

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