I have been discussing this topic with clients, specifically around the question ‘must they be medically qualified?’. In recent years, particularly in the public sector, there has been a tendency to include DSE (Display Screen Equipment) workstation assessments in an occupational health (OH) contract because it is believed that an OH background qualifies an assessor to understand the medical requirements and, therefore, to provide the best advice.
Whilst the medical background is almost certainly an asset, an understanding of available products is essential. This is not just about knowing that X is a good chair or Y is a good mouse but knowing how to specify a particular variant of an appropriate product and ’what works with what’. As OH contract fees are squeezed and training is neglected, an OH qualification is simply not enough. The steady stream of orders we receive for wrongly specified chairs, incompatible mice or unviable product combinations is proof of this.
Talking to friends and competitors in the industry, all ergo product suppliers have the same experience. By contrast, some of my own staff (and those of my competitors) have no medical background but an enormous range of assessment experience, training and product knowledge.
In a bid to address this ongoing issue, we regularly offer free product advice and training to OH companies and individuals but not enough take it up.