This article has been written by Jordan Lees, Lawyer and Physiotherapist. Jordan addresses the physiological and legal arguments to support your request for a standing desk in your workplace.
So, you have an injury (let's just say it is back pain, since 80-90% of Australians will experience back pain during their life), and like most people, you find that prolonged sitting aggravates your symptoms. You have asked your manager at work for a standing desk to help with your recovery. The only problem is that your request has been denied! Well, don't despair, and keep reading, because this article will arm you with all of the information that you need to help change your manager's mind.
The obvious starting point is to bring to your manager's attention that most injuries or pains experienced by desk-bound workers are caused by overuse - simply doing the same thing, in the same position/posture, for hours on end. This causes physical strain to accumulate in the same areas, and for some people, this progresses to pain or injury. By using a standing desk, you will be able to regularly switch between sitting and standing throughout the working day, thereby reducing the continual accumulation of physical strain to your symptomatic area.
After discussing this with your manager, hopefully he or she is starting to see the benefit of a standing desk. However, you will likely run into a bit of a road block when it comes down to cost. At this point, let your manager know that an UpDown Desk standing desk frame is less than $700. And if you are getting a standing desk for your office, UpDown Desk will even provide you with a free ergonomic assessment to help you get the most out of your standing desk.* In most cases you will be able to re-use your existing desktop, so there is no need to buy a new one. This $700 might sound expensive, but you could kindly let your manager know that if your injury gets worse, and progresses to a WorkCover claim, the employer will be liable to pay $707 in medical expenses (this is the Victorian amount, it is similar in other states around Australia) before their workers' compensation insurance kicks in. Add to this the lost productivity caused by your absence from work, and the $700 for a standing desk doesn't seem like such a bad option now!
Now, in my experience, it is unlikely your manager will still stay no at this stage. However, if they do, you have one final trump card. Simply get a medical certificate from your treating GP, Physio, Osteo or Chiro, which states that a standing desk is recommended to help with your recovery and prevent further exacerbation of your injury. An employer is playing with fire if they try to overrule the opinion of a treating health practitioner, as it begins to raise questions under employment and OHS law, especially if your condition gets worse. Further, employer's have a legal responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to your workplace if an injury requires such adjustments for you to complete your work. By my reckoning, a standing desk is a reasonable adjustment, especially when the cost is actually less than the minimum amount the employer will be liable for should your injury progress to a WorkCover claim.
So there you have it, a guideline to getting a standing desk in your workplace. Hopefully you'll be reading this from your new standing desk in the not too distant future!
This article is not intended to be legal advice and it should not be taken as such.
* Free ergonomic assessments limited to the Melbourne CBD region.