My staff ignore the correct desk plan at work

My staff ignore the correct desk plan at work


James Rowland

Commercial Director James leads Account Management, Sales and Marketing at Neathouse Partners.


27 February 2023


17 July 2024
3 min read

If your organisation relies on a desk plan to keep employees safe, productive and injury free, the most important thing to do is to ensure that all staff are aware of the desk plan and its importance, and that you keep track of risk assessments and conversations held in relation to the plan.

What To Do If Staff Are Ignoring Desk Plans

In some organisations, desk plans aren’t just a way to keep track of where staff sit, but they are a matter of health, safety and well-being.

It’s important therefore to understand what to do if staff are ignoring desk plans.

  • Ensure that all employees are aware of the desk plans and their importance - you could include this in induction plans for new staff
  • Share the reasons why the desk plans are necessary, and how adhering to them can help protect everyone in the workplace.
  • Take steps to enforce the desk plans. For instance, you could make sure that desks are labelled and only assigned to specific staff members, or have a system in place to monitor who is using which desk at any given time.
  • Regular checks should be carried out to ensure that everyone is adhering to the correct desk plans.
  • Ensure that any individuals who don’t comply with the desk plan are spoken to constructively and reminded of their duty of care. Ensure that disciplinary action is taken if necessary, such as warnings or suspensions.
  • If there are any issues or difficulties with desk plans, make sure these are addressed quickly for everyone to remain safe and productive in the workplace.
  • Make sure that you review desk plans regularly, especially when new staff or equipment are considered to ensure they are up-to-date and that all staff are comfortable with them. This will help create a safe, comfortable work environment for everyone.

Employers can ensure that desk plans that are required to maintain employee health and safety are followed by clearly communicating the plan in inductions, and periodically throughout the employee’s employment.

This will ensure that all members of staff are clear on why the desk plan is important, and how it benefits them.

If staff continue to ignore the correct desk plan, you may need to consider disciplinary action and/or suspending staff who do not comply.

This should be carried out following your company's disciplinary procedures.

Why Are Desk Plans Needed?

Why Are Desk Plans Needed

Health & safety legislation, along with individual company policies on organisation and safety in the workplace, can dictate that staff must adhere to desk plans, particularly workers who use designated desks or chairs while working on computers.

Not only does this help to keep the workplace organised, but it also helps protect staff from potential health risks such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which can be caused by prolonged time in the wrong position or injuries from using equipment they are not properly trained to.

Desk plans can help to reduce the risk of harm in the workplace, increase safety and minimise potential hazards.

They also provide a level of certainty for employers about where staff will be working and what equipment they will have access to.

Desk plans can also help with team cooperation, collaboration and communication as well as improving efficiency by ensuring that staff are located in the best environment for their tasks.

What Do Employers Need To Know

What Do Employers Need To Know

Accidents and injuries at work do happen, but if employers are proactive with their Health & safety responsibilities and follow up on breaches of related policies that have been set swiftly, they can minimise the risk of any case being brought against them by an employee.

Employers need to:

  • conduct risk assessments for employee work areas
  • provide staff with up-to-date safety procedures relevant to their role
  • providing training on how to use the equipment safely and effectively
  • keep records of training provided, risks assessments conducted and any breaches of regulations set along with the action that was taken.
  • encourage staff to ask questions if they need help understanding the desk plans.
  • give guidance on how staff can make sure their work area is set up correctly, and give them the tools they need to do this safely.
  • implement policies that address the consequences for workers who ignore the desk plan. These could include verbal warnings, written warnings or even disciplinary action in more serious cases.

Ultimately, employers need to enforce these policies to ensure a safe working environment for all staff.

By taking the time to implement and communicate an effective desk plan, as well as addressing any issues when they arise, employers can provide their staff with a safe and comfortable working environment.

Risks & Dangers Of Not Following A Desk Plan

Employees not following a specific desk plan can result in several risks and dangers:

  • increased risk of accidents and injuries, due to unsafe practices or using equipment incorrectly.
  • processes may not be carried out correctly, resulting in mistakes that could have serious consequences.
  • confusion over staff location, which could be detrimental in instances of fire
  • could lead to a decrease in productivity, as employees are not working efficiently or effectively.
  • could lead to legal and financial implications for the employer. An employee injured due to negligence could take legal action against the company, and any loss of productivity can result in financial losses.

Employers need to ensure that all staff understand the importance of following desk plans, both for health & safety and productivity reasons.

If staff ignore the correct desk plan at work, the first step is to remind staff of the correct desk plan and company policies.

If that doesn’t work then further action may be needed such as following formal disciplinary procedures, suspension or dismissal in the most extreme cases when other attempts to enforce desk plans have failed.

Next Steps

As you can see, it's important that employers understand and act upon their responsibility to keep workers safe, and that employees have all the information that they need to ensure they can make good decisions about their health & safety at work.

If you would like support with managing and understanding your HR, health and safety, and employer responsibilities towards your workforce or acting on disciplinary matters, please contact us.


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