Home > Ask Our Experts > Where do I Stand in regards to Workplace Law?

Where do I Stand in regards to Workplace Law?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Health Safety Work Computers Workplace

Q.

My work has taken the chairs away from the computer area so we have to stand while working on the touch screens all day.

They are saying the chairs are luxuries, is there anything I can do?

(Miss Kat Hastings, 8 October 2008)

A.

Based solely upon the information you have given here, this would appear to be a case of your employer contravening the health and safety regulations as laid out in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 which state the following:

“A suitable seat shall be provided for each person at work in the workplace whose work includes an operation of a kind that the work (or a substantial part of it) can or must be done sitting.”

The key issue in this regard is the phrase ‘can be done sitting’ which is obviously the case as your query has indicated that this is how the work was done previously before the chairs were taken away. Therefore, it’s highly likely that your employer is breaking the law. Chairs certainly aren’t a ‘luxury’ as your employer refers to it.

Basically, any kind of workstation should be suitable for not only the work which is being carried out but also for the individual using that particular workspace which is why all workers who work sitting down in front of computers or similar equipment all day not only should be provided with a chair but one which is adjustable and which has been adjusted to suit the particular individual sitting at it at any given time. For example, it needs to support the lower back and footrests should also be provided if you’re unable to place your feet flat on the floor when you’re sitting down.

The first course of action would probably be to speak to your Health and Safety Officer or representative about this matter. However, if they refuse to get involved, you could then tell them that this is a contravention of the health and safety regulations and that you’ll be looking to take further action. This might include speaking to your trade union representative if you have one.

If the matter stays unresolved, you have a legal right as an employee to stop work and leave your workstation if you feel you have reasonable concerns for your health and safety and you can do this without your employer being able to take disciplinary action against you.

The next thing would be to take up the matter with the Health & Safety Executive and they have an information line you can call where you’ll be able to get specific advice. The number is 08453 450 055

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
K - Your Question:
Hi for the last 6 years I have worked with the same company as a pharmacy dispenser for an online pharmacy. Due to the nature of patients we provide medication for majority of my job role is dispensing on a computer. On a daily basis I spend at least 6 hours in front of a computer and maybe around 1 hour physically dispensing if my colleagues are busy. For the last 6 years I have always had a chair until today when a new manager enforced a ‘no chair policy’ my desk station is quite low and today I felt the effect of having to lean down to complete my work. Is this the correct procedure my employer enforced? Please help.

Our Response:
It's unfair of your employer to take away a chair if they have not raised your workstation to standing level. Talk to them about the issues with bending forward and back problems. HSE may be able to advise.
SafeWorkers - 17-Apr-18 @ 2:37 PM
Hi for the last 6 years I have worked with the same company as a pharmacy dispenser for an online pharmacy. Due to the nature of patients we provide medication for majority of my job role is dispensing on a computer. On a daily basis I spend at least 6 hours in front of a computer and maybe around 1 hour physically dispensing if my colleagues are busy. For the last 6 years I have always had a chair until today when a new manager enforced a ‘no chair policy’ my desk station is quite low and today I felt the effect of having to lean down to complete my work. Is this the correct procedure my employer enforced? Please help.
K - 16-Apr-18 @ 11:49 PM
Ohs recommended sit/stand desk for me.Due to changes in work I have had to sit most days.Yesterday I gmhad to stand all of my shift as the desk I was told to move to was too high for me.I was in alot of pain last night.Can I refuse to do so in future until I get a sit/stand desk again?
Meant - 11-Apr-18 @ 8:41 AM
Hi I’m currently working in Wilko, at the checkout. Recently a new store manager came there and within few days she removed the chairs from all the checkout tills. When we asked about this she told that when using chairs in tills, staff serving customers very slowly and she need to increase the speed of serving customers. But we have 2 shifts(3 hours & 4 hours) every days. There is 30 mins unpaid breaks and 15 mins paid breaks. So when I do 7 hours a day, I have to stand 6 hours & 45 mins. Because of this last few weeks I’m struggling with back pain. Can you explain me is the manager have the right to remove the chair from the checkouts(even health and safety reasons)? We do not have a union in our shop.
Ash - 4-Apr-18 @ 8:30 PM
Recently had workstation assessment at work which amongst recommendations for larger monitors, recommended my current habitual choice of desk being made a static desk. Line management are trying to alter my seating as although we are hot desking, they rigidly sit ten yards down the room. To this end they went to Health and Safety behind my back questioning this recommendation. Health and Safety emailed me separately, suggesting I might show them the report or an extract.I feel like they are questioningthe validity of the situation. Before I do anything else, appreciate advice, as I fear the monitors will be delivered on a day I'm working from home, and will not be delivered to my desk as agreed. Thank you.
AMB - 2-Apr-18 @ 11:36 AM
Kelly - Your Question:
I have a prolapsed disc at my L5-S1 nerve root and a bulging disc at my L4-L5 along with bulging disc at C5-C6 as well as low cerebellar tonsils with chiari type 1 malformation. I also have sciatica from my prolapsed disc on my S1 nerve. I am currently a waiting facet joint injections. I am due back at work on 27th March. My question is can I request a proper orthopaedic chair for my workstation and can I request to work in a downstairs office where I have extreme difficulty managing stairs. There is no lifts in my building and to get into my office I have to go up 2 and a half flights of stairs. I cannot afford to be off work and really want to be there. What realistically can I ask from my company to help aid my pain to enable me to work.

Our Response:
Ask to see an occupational therapist... your work may offer to pay for this. They can make recommendations to your employer.
SafeWorkers - 20-Mar-18 @ 11:47 AM
I have a prolapsed disc at my L5-S1 nerve root and a bulging disc at my L4-L5 along with bulging disc at C5-C6 as well as low cerebellar tonsils with chiari type 1 malformation. I also have sciatica from my prolapsed disc on my S1 nerve. I am currently a waiting facet joint injections. I am due back at work on 27th March. My question is can I request a proper orthopaedic chair for my workstation and can I request to work in a downstairs office where I have extreme difficulty managing stairs. There is no lifts in my building and to get into my office I have to go up 2 and a half flights of stairs. I cannot afford to be off work and really want to be there. What realistically can I ask from my company to help aid my pain to enable me to work.
Kelly - 18-Mar-18 @ 12:59 PM
Michelle- Your Question:
I work as a receptionist and I am currently sat in a high bar stool with absolutely no support especially to my back. I do long shifts and it has started taking its toll on my back and hurting it a lot. Could anyone help me with what my rights are as this seat has no suspension, no padding or anything. It is literally just a bar stool.I have said to my boss but she is taking it no further.Plz help :(

Our Response:
Are you allowed to alternate between sitting and standing?If so, a bar stool might be have been chosen for this reasons; by having no back, it's possibly making your back do some work and helping it to stay strong. A stool at standing height enables you to alternate work standing up or sitting down which is the best option for staying healthy. If you're not allowed to stand, then raise a formal complaint if it's feasible that you can do your job standing as well as sitting.
SafeWorkers - 16-Mar-18 @ 11:59 AM
I work as a receptionist and I am currently sat in a high bar stool with absolutely no support especially to my back. I do long shifts and it has started taking its toll on my back and hurting it a lot. Could anyone help me with what my rights are as this seat has no suspension, no padding or anything. It is literally just a bar stool. I have said to my boss but she is taking it no further. Plz help :(
Michelle - 15-Mar-18 @ 8:29 AM
Hi I work as a Reception security officer nights alongside two other officers for a client. The building is a office place with a number of floors. The problem we are having is the chair they have provided us is very unsuitable and broken. When the building manager arrives in morning to relieve the guard off duty their is a side boardroom in reception where they have brand new chairs to sit on which they lock up after their shift is finished and take the key away. I have raised this issue with my employer so they can get hold of the client to provide a decent chair to sit in but upto this date has not replied back i have also asked the building manager to replace the chair which he refuses to. The chair is a health hazard also they will not provide a xtra heater as their is no heating in the reception. Please help
M - 11-Mar-18 @ 7:57 AM
Aaron - Your Question:
I am a employed bedroom fitted and I would like to know my right for refusing to drive company vehicle in bad weather (snow & ice).

Our Response:
There are no "rights" documented in employment law that cover this specific instance. Your employer has a duty of care towards you and must make sure any equipment you use is safe/suitable for purpose etc. If the employer deems it is safe to drive, and other van drivers are out and about, it will be difficult for you to refuse.
SafeWorkers - 6-Mar-18 @ 12:05 PM
I am a employed bedroom fitted and I would like to know my right for refusing to drive company vehicle in bad weather (snow & ice).
Aaron - 3-Mar-18 @ 9:17 PM
JO - Your Question:
I fell off a low chair from height having to stand on it to reach a shelf that was to high for me to reach there was no steps at all on the premises this caused me to break my radius bone in my wrist and I may have to have a plate put in as it's not healing. Would I have a claim or would it be my own fault for standing on a chair although there is nothing else provided to stand on.

Our Response:
You would need to seek professional legal advice on this...we can't answer individual questions about claims etc.
SafeWorkers - 13-Feb-18 @ 2:42 PM
I fell off a low chair from height having to stand on it to reach a shelf that was to high for me to reach there was no steps at all on the premises this caused me to break my radius bone in my wrist and I may have to have a plate put in as it's not healing. Would I have a claim or would it be my own fault for standing on a chair although there is nothing else provided to stand on.
JO - 12-Feb-18 @ 2:09 AM
J - Your Question:
I work nights as security and my manager has sent a email out saying not to change the seating position of there chairs?

Our Response:
Sorry?
SafeWorkers - 9-Feb-18 @ 3:13 PM
I work nights as security and my manager has sent a email out saying not to change the seating position of there chairs?
J - 9-Feb-18 @ 1:16 AM
Dave - Your Question:
I work in a CNC machining shop and our management team have told us that they are going to remove all our chairs so we have to stand all day I suffer with osteoarthritis in my knees feet back neck and hands I am also diabetic and keep having trouble controlling my sugars so I keep having hot sweats where I need a sit down and a thick sugar fix Have they the right to remove the chairs I am not the only one with problems There is a gent with a slipped disk and need a chair for obvious reasons and a few others with like ailments

Our Response:
Ask for risk assessment. Standing is sometimes better for you than being sedentary all day, but ideally you should have a mixture of each.
SafeWorkers - 17-Jan-18 @ 2:18 PM
I work in a CNC machining shop and our management team have told us that they are going to remove all our chairs so we have to stand all day I suffer with osteoarthritis in my knees feet back neck and hands I am also diabetic and keep having trouble controlling my sugars so I keep having hot sweats where I need a sit down and a thick sugar fix Have they the right to remove the chairs I am not the only one with problems There is a gent with a slipped disk and need a chair for obvious reasons and a few others with like ailments
Dave - 15-Jan-18 @ 9:42 AM
My bosses took away our office chairs. They remodeled the office yo standing offices. I work 50 plus hrs and I Never, never get a break. And I don't ever get a chance to sit
Morales - 4-Jan-18 @ 3:27 AM
Hi, My query is slightly different: I feel I'm sat down for too long during my working day. I believe sitting down all day is terrible for posture and wellbeing. At the moment my chair is a standard/typical office chair design and the desk is fixed at standard height. I think an improvement would be to change between sitting, leaning and standing throughout the day. Some of my colleagues feel the same way. And think that an adjustable desk and chair that can meet these 3 heights would be beneficial to our long term health. Is there any legislation that can support us? Or any other points that can assist? I look forward to your response.
Ricjh - 14-Dec-17 @ 10:35 AM
Hi, My query is different: I feel I do too much sitting at work in my office job and would like a standing desk and chair; one that i am able to alternate between sitting, leaning and standing on to promote varying movements. I believe thay sitting all day is terrible for posture and overall wellbeing. There are people who feel the same as me and they would prefer to choose whether they sit or stand throughout the day. Is there anything legal to support me in trying to make this change? I look forward to your response.
Rich - 14-Dec-17 @ 10:28 AM
Sxh - Your Question:
Am a engineer, my work have now said everyone needs to complete a first aid course, I do not feel comfortable doing this can they force you into it when they already have staff who are first aid trained ?

Our Response:
Yes if this is a company policy you will be expected to attend especially if it's for your safety and your fellow colleagues.
SafeWorkers - 5-Dec-17 @ 2:20 PM
Am a engineer, my work have now said everyone needs to complete a first aid course, I do not feel comfortable doing this can they force you into it when they already have staff who are first aid trained ?
Sxh - 4-Dec-17 @ 5:02 PM
I used to work in a post office with chairs and everything was fine .i do suffer with a prolapse womb and standing is painful so having a chair was a necessity for me.now my bosses have put the post office into the shop and took away the chairs and im in constant pain .ive asked for a chair and they said theres no room for one and if i cant stand and do.the job i shouldnt be doing the job.ive been in this job for 8 years
Tracey Cooper - 15-Oct-17 @ 10:18 PM
I do 36 hours per week as a sales associate with most of my work being done via computers and on the phone. My company have provided me with a bar stool with no back support whatsoever!! Surely this can not be correct?
Dee - 4-Oct-17 @ 11:50 PM
Hello, Sorry if this is a long post. I had an OH assessment where they recommended an orthopaedic chair. I duly went through the process and had the Budget Manager approval for the expenditure.I left work citing I could do so without recourse until they ordered the correct chair. Unfortunately what was ordered was a cheap £70 chair that was worse in quality than the current office chairs! I complained and the folk have subsequently ordered another chair but does not have all the functions, such as seat slide and adjustable arm rests, that was quoted on my OH assessment as a requirement. All this because the chair I identified as adequate the business states is too expensive! Firstly, where does it state in law that I am allowed to remain off work until they sort out proper seating, I know it exists but cannot find the link.Secondly, what on earth do I do now?
JerryBun - 23-Aug-17 @ 8:27 AM
Sorry Mauro but "most people" are NOT on zero hours contracts!That is just plain silly to believe so. Most employers will accept that you need a reasonable work place adjustment, as long as you have medical evidence.
JohnFM - 23-Aug-17 @ 8:18 AM
It is actually ridiculous to read this andpretend workers have any right to refuse anything...ACAS ...HEALTHY AND SAFETY....they can not do anything at all...if your employer want staff to stand and you ask for chair ...you will only get fired...that is the only thing that it is going to happen...and then once you have lost your job nobody can do anything for you....why still writing these articles and make believe workers have any right....they don't ....most contarct are zero hours....what are we talking about?
Mauro Frigino - 9-Aug-17 @ 9:58 PM
Laur - Your Question:
I work in a office for 9.5 hours a day. We have partially broken office chairs which give no support to any part of my back unless im fully led back meaning I cannot do any work. I have spoken with both the owner and manager about the pain it is causing my back and they have refused to buy a new chair. I have to take painkillers daily, im 21 and dont want to screw my back up so young. What can I do?

Our Response:
Speak to trade union rep or follow your employer's usual grievance procedure if you're sure the chair is damaging your back. The Health and Safety Executive may also be able to provide advice.
SafeWorkers - 31-Jul-17 @ 2:35 PM
I work in a office for 9.5 hours a day. We have partially broken office chairs which give no support to any part of my back unless im fully led back meaning i cannot do any work. I have spoken with both the owner and manager about the pain it is causing my back and they have refused to buy a new chair. I have to take painkillers daily, im 21 and dont want to screw my back up so young. What can i do?
Laur - 28-Jul-17 @ 1:33 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SafeWorkers website. Please read our Disclaimer.