Seating at work

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers are required to assess risks including those that arise from seating in the workplace, and to have arrangements in place to protect employees’ health and safety.

Why is seating so important?

Most jobs nowadays require people to sit whilst working. Unsuitable seating can cause people to adopt awkward postures which can lead to discomfort, back pain and upper limb disorders. This may prove costly to employers in the form of staff absences, potential civil claims and lost production.

Who is responsible for seating in the workplace?

  • Employers, the self-employed, and people in control of non-domestic premises used as a workplace have a general duty to ensure that seating is safe and that it does not pose a health risk to employees
  • Employees also have duties; they are required not to endanger their own or others’ health and safety at work
  • Legal requirements – Employers are required to provide seating for employees that is suitable and safe. It should meet the needs of the individual, and the requirements of the task

Managing the health and safety risks from seating in the workplace

  • Planning – identify priorities and set targets for improvement
  • Organising – providing staff with the necessary training and equipment to do their job safely, and include and involve staff in the planning and promotion of health and safety
  • Controlling – including setting standards and maintaining them
  • Monitoring and reviewing – looking at how far set standards have been met, and where necessary, to improve health and safety
  • Risk assessments – employers must assess the risks in the workplace, including seating
  • Assessing whether the seating design is suitable and safe – considering the needs of the individual and the type of work being carried out, including the size of the workstation

The HSE have produced a very useful guide to help understand Seating at work. HSG57 is available online as a free-to-download, web-friendly version. Click here to have a read