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Desk problem. Not sure how to handle

(34 Posts)
Mehfruittea Sat 11-Nov-17 09:26:24

I have been in role for a few months, company is small ish and we have 20 people working in our section. It’s just had a refurb with all new carpets furniture etc. The company is in a male dominated industry but our section is all admin based and mostly female. The desks that have arrived are not standard desks from an office furniture supplier but are from one of our customers and aimed at our industry. They are too tall!

The desk is too high to get a proper seating posture. If we raise our chair height then feet don’t touch the ground. I’m average height 5’6” and it’s too tall for me. I have ladies in my team who are much shorter than me. I am manger of 8 people, 1 male 7 female. All 7 women have said they are getting neck, shoulder and back pain due to desks.

I’ve raised it informally with HR assistant who is in charge of desk assessments. She said she would come to our building and complete new assessments after my request. She said she would come last week but no day specified. She didn’t come. Informally, I’ve been told the M.D. is aware and just passed it off as moaning.

Reality check. I know how much we spent on this refurb and how tight the company finances are. We’re on a knife edge and simply can not afford to replace them. There is no way to make them smaller. They are simply designed by men. For men. It’s ridiculous but don’t know how to navigate this delicate issue. I can’t simply say the same thing louder and louder until someone listens, I need a different way to handle this. I’m new and don’t want to lose this job by being seen as negative or unable to manage my team. What do I do?!

thereinmadnesslies Sat 11-Nov-17 09:28:04

Can you buy footrests for each desk - more money, but less than the cost of replacing desks.

pastabest Sat 11-Nov-17 09:28:07

That's shit

Would footstools help in the meantime?

endofthelinefinally Sat 11-Nov-17 09:29:26

Any way of reducing the height of the desks? Do they have legs?
Or look for some footstools?

grasspigeons Sat 11-Nov-17 09:30:32

Well you need footrests.

I find a bit of humour works well in a complaint

I had a water boiler moved because it was set at man height. I emailed the right people with a link to some expensive high heels and asked if all the women could have a pair of these so their faces didn't get scaled by the man height boiler. It was moved within 2 days in the slowest moving organisation I have ever worked in

acornsandnuts Sat 11-Nov-17 09:31:50

Can you collate statistics on sickness from back problem. Massive problem in all industries. Surely staff being on sick leave will impact massively on the company.

shushpenfold Sat 11-Nov-17 09:32:13

Until they’ve done a desk assessment, find anything you can rest your feet on.....paper reams, box etc; it’ll take the pressure off your back and legs. Footrests are only £13 on amazon so it won’t break the bank.

ParadiseCity Sat 11-Nov-17 09:32:17

Another one saying footrests. We have a h&s sheet to assess our workstations that we fill out ourselves and if we can't tick off all the things (like 'arms at x angle to desk' or whatever) then some solution has to be found by HR.

endofthelinefinally Sat 11-Nov-17 09:32:23

Even a sturdy box can be used as a foot rest. Or a toddler step.

Sierra259 Sat 11-Nov-17 09:33:57

I'm pretty sure that your company are required by law to ensure ergonomically appropriate work areas as far as possible. It needn't mean a big expenditure, footstools under the desks would solve the problem of having to have the chairs up high.

Make the request formally, explaining that many staff are reporting issues. Keep chasing them until they come and do the assessments. The Health and Safety Executive website is also likely to have some more info about what is expected of your employer under legislation.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 11-Nov-17 09:34:35

My first thought was footrests because I'm solution driven.

My second thought (once I engaged my brain) was that a work station assessment should have been done for each member of staff as soon as the environment (i.e. new desks) changed and adjustments made as appropriate.

If your organisation doesn't already have a workstation assessment form they use you can get them online for free. I'm fairly sure the HSE does one in their risk assessment pack. I'll check.

pastabest Sat 11-Nov-17 09:34:55

HSE desk assessment

hungryradish Sat 11-Nov-17 09:35:52

Wow, that's ridiculous! Those assessments are a bit late now!

We have 'normal' desks & I have a footstool due to being short. Your feet must be able rest on the floor or a foot stool must be provided. Not sure if a footstool will be tall enough for the shorter people??

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 11-Nov-17 09:35:55

Here you go:

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 11-Nov-17 09:36:21

X-posted with pastabest smile

Ifartrainbowsandglitter Sat 11-Nov-17 09:38:47

Simple solution as per previous posters. Footstalls. I’ve always had to use a footstall at every desk I’ve worked at. I notice back and neck pain within days if I don’t use it.

AlternativeTentacle Sat 11-Nov-17 09:39:55

Do your own DSE assessment for your team and point out it will be more expensive when people inevitably start having huge amounts of sick leave through backache.

Mehfruittea Sat 11-Nov-17 10:42:43

Thanks for all the suggestions, didn’t think of footstools!! We don’t have any in our building and I’ve never used one before so didn’t occur to me blush

It’s the DSE assessment is asked for that hasn’t happened. I’ll get some boxes and makeshift rests for the team in the meantime. I really dont want to fail the team and have no idea how the business will handle this as I’m new. Thanks MN!

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 11-Nov-17 10:52:15

Do the assessment yourself. It's not hard and the HR asssitant won't have done any special training.

It's common in many places to do your own workstation risk assessment.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 11-Nov-17 10:52:51

What does your manager say btw?

Wh0KnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Sat 11-Nov-17 10:56:34

We do our own assessments too and have footrests where needed. It's easier for short people to have footrests than for tall people to manage with lower desks, I've never had an adjustable height desk.

CarrotCakeMuffins Sat 11-Nov-17 11:00:51

Rather than wait for them to complete the assessment since they have failed to show up so far, I suggest you complete them yourself with your colleagues (they need 1 each) using the HSE template linked above.
Then present HR / Whoever with the results and a list of what you need so resolve issues identified. If you can order these yourself then even better.
This is likely to be footstools. However if the desks are really high, these may still not be enough, but definitely the first thing to try.
The assessment may also show up other things needed like wrist rests etc. None of these things are terribly expensive.

Good luck!

daisychain01 Sat 11-Nov-17 11:08:24

Footrests are the way Togo, in fact they were recommended to me by my physio. Make sure the chairs are fully adjustable so short and tall people can have their legs in a comfortable position, legs not jammed up against the underside of the desk.

daisychain01 Sat 11-Nov-17 11:08:38

to go

Mehfruittea Sat 11-Nov-17 12:17:26

Thanks everyone! Adjustable chairs is a whole other thread! I report to MD so don’t want to discuss what he deems as trivial personnel issues. I already know his opinion so that’s a losing battle anyway.

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