Imagine having neck pain so bad you have to take a 20–30-minute break every quarter of an hour of your working day. Even aside from the chronic pain, just think how frustrating that would be, how much it would limit your potential and also what it might do to your mental health.
Well, that was the reality for ‘Molly’ (not her real name), a CMIOSH and IOSH member of 15 years. Working as a corporate health and safety consultant from her London home, Molly, who is in her fifties, was trapped by the fact her condition wouldn’t allow her to do enough work to earn the money she needed to invest in the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) that could free her up to work for longer. As if life wasn’t challenging enough.
They say that ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ and that certainly applies to Molly who single-handedly (she lives alone) researched possible sources of funding to enable her to get the special sit/stand desk (the pain eases a little when she stands), chair and keyboard tray that would allow her to work for longer periods.
Thankfully, Molly found details of the IOSH Benevolent Fund and put in an application late last year. The amount she requested was granted and within a month or so she got the DSE she needed.
Now she can work for a full hour before she needs a break – and then she only rests for a maximum of half the time she used to have to. The new equipment enables Molly to vary her posture more easily and stay at her workstation for longer.
“Getting support from the IOSH Benevolent Fund has meant I can work much more comfortably and for longer, with fewer breaks,” says Molly.
“This has not only been of huge benefit to my work but has meant I can also take my mind off work for longer, giving me the chance to rest and relax more and also feel strong enough to give time to my CPD and attend webinars and online courses.
“Without doubt, this has been a real boost to my mental health as well as my career. I would have carried on without the support I got from the Fund but it would have taken me a long time before I could’ve afforded to buy the items I needed to make my workstation more comfortable,” she adds.
To describe the grant made to Molly as a ‘handout’ would surely be to miss the point. She just wanted to be free from pain for long enough to be able to do her work and live her life. The Fund’s trustees and its donors will rightly be proud they could do something to help.