• Olivia Iwon

    Attorney-at-law, Duraj Reck & Partners Law Firm

21 November 2023

New obligations of employers in the field of workplace organisation

On 17 November 2023, amendments to the Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 1 December 1998 came into force. on health and safety at work in workplaces equipped with screen monitors[1]. The updated rules mean obligations that employers will have to meet not only when creating new workstations equipped with screen monitors, but which will also have to be implemented in relation to existing workstations. It should be emphasised that the provisions of the regulation apply to every person employed by the employer, including apprentices and trainees who use a screen monitor during work for at least half of their daily working time, i.e. the so-called “screen monitor”. “daily wages”.

In addition to glasses, also contact lenses

The employer is obliged to provide employees working in positions with screen monitors with preventive health care. Until now, employers were obliged to provide employees with eyeglasses to correct their vision if the results of eye examinations carried out as part of this preventive health care showed the need to use them while working with a screen monitor. From 17 November 2023, this obligation will also be extended to contact lenses on the same terms. In any case, both glasses and corrective contact lenses provided by the employer must be in accordance with the doctor’s recommendation.

Additional equipment when working with a laptop

For a good few years now, portable computers have replaced massive desktop units in workplaces, providing mobility and the ability to work virtually anywhere. However, it has been known for a long time that the design of a laptop does not meet the ergonomic requirements, the purpose of which is to ensure a proper, comfortable posture at work and relieve the musculoskeletal system, as well as the employee’s eyesight. For these reasons, the amended provisions of the regulation force employers to introduce specific solutions at the workstations of those employees who spend at least half of their daily working time at a laptop, i.e. the so-called “daily wages“. The workstations of such employees should be equipped with a stationary screen monitor or a stand that ensures that the screen is positioned so that its upper edge is at the employee’s eye level, and with an additional keyboard and mouse.

The annex to the regulation expands on the issue by specifying the requirements to be met by devices constituting additional equipment in the workplace. The appendix indicates,, that the positioning of the screen monitor and other elements of equipment should not force uncomfortable movements of the head and neck. The top edge of the screen monitor should be at the employee’s eye level. Positioning the display monitor in relation to light sources should reduce glare and reflections. The design of the keyboard should allow the worker to assume a position that would not cause fatigue of the upper limb muscles during work.

Adjustable chair and footrest on request

New requirements have also been laid down for the workplace chair. An important change is the need to ensure that the chair has adjustable armrests. In addition, the chair should have seat height adjustment, lumbar spine backrest height adjustment, backrest tilt angle adjustment, and appropriate backrest and seat dimensions, ensuring a comfortable body position and freedom of movement.

Importantly, both a modern chair that provides adjustment of virtually all of its elements, as well as the previously mentioned stationary screen monitor or stand, additional keyboard and mouse, should be provided by the employer on their own, regardless of whether they receive any signals on this subject from their employees. However, it is different in the case of the footrest. This piece of equipment should only be provided to the employee at the employee’s request. An employee who feels that he needs a footrest to maintain a comfortable working position must show his own initiative and provide the employer with information in this regard.

How much time for implementation?

Employers have been given a deadline of 6 months from the date of entry into force of the above changes to adapt the existing workplaces to the minimum health and safety and ergonomics requirements set out in the amended regulations. This means that by 17 May 2024 at the latest, employers should equip workstations with new equipment and equipment that meets the requirements set out in the amended regulations.

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