Few would peg bean counting as an occupation with serious health risks, but the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is convinced its staff are under threat from too much time with their calculators and desk chairs.
In fact the ATO has moved to source new software that will enable it to make employees get some exercise to minimise the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders and “achieve behavioural change that empowers them to manage their own safety within their screen based environment” — read: ‘Get off their butts’.
According to the ATO, the agency has some 23,000 computer users and ‘body stressing’ accounts for more than 30 per cent of incidents and claims for compensation within the organisation.
Through rolling our an ‘IT pause program’ software tool, the ATO will be able to support a range of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) strategies currently in place and believes it will reduce the incidence of MSD within the organisation.
The new software will allow risk and health profiles to be set up for individual employee, teams or business areas and be able to report on keyboard and mouse activity and assist in identifying high risk body stressing areas and individuals.
The program will also deliver messages and reminders to the user’s computer, based on keyboard activity and risk, about micro pauses, breaks, exercise regimes to prevent MSD, health advice, and effective ergonomic education.
The ATO’s IT environment is marked by a strong preference for Microsoft kit and includes a ‘traditional’ dual mainframe and a midrange computing environment. The agency also places an emphasis on highly configurable and minimum development, Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solutions.
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