Picture the most dangerous job you can think of… Perhaps you’re envisioning a Hollywood stunt person, an engineer working on an oil rig or even a Formula 1 driver. These jobs may be laden with risks, but their potential health issues consequences may not be a world away from those you could experience in an ordinary office environment.
While high-speed crashes and industrial accidents may be unlikely in an office, desk jobs also pose health risks to the workers who spend 40 hours per week in the workplace. In contrast to the accidents and incidents of high-risk roles. The health consequences of office workers are often the result of negative long term habits. From increasing your risk of diabetes to causing Musco-skeletal problems over time. The health issues related to office work are slow-burning and can become quietly serious over time.
To help you get on top of your health in the workplace, we’ve listed 3 common problems that can trigger illness or injury – alongside tips to help offset the risks.
1. Sitting down can be seriously harmful
81% of office workers in the UK spend between 4-9 hours sitting down every day. Totalled across one year, that equates to 67 full days of sitting. This sedentary behaviour is one of the most harmful office health issues, which can result in obesity, heart disease, Musco-skeletal problems, diabetes, and other illnesses – even for individuals who lead an active lifestyle outside of work.
To mitigate the ill-effects of extended sitting, consider regular movement breaks – at least every two hours for a minimum of two minutes. Standing desks are becoming increasingly fashionable. Consider requesting your employer installs standing “hot desks”, so all employees can benefit from a few standing sessions during the week.
2. Office diets can negatively impact your health
Whether you’re skipping breakfast to get into the office early, binging on coffee after coffee to break up the day, eating endless birthday cakes or buying supermarket sandwiches for your lunch – office diets are often very unhealthy. Skipping breakfast, for instance, can disrupt your metabolism, which can lead to high blood pressure in the long term. Meanwhile, the NHS has highlighted the unhealthy contents of supermarket lunches in a recent, eye-opening report.
To tackle this issue, encourage your entire workplace to invest in healthy options. Convincing your employer to arrange fruit deliveries from a company like Fruitful Office. For example, it will ensure there is always a healthy option available – and cut down on unhealthy snacking. To make sure your lunch is healthy, get organized! Preparing your meals in advance will mean you always have a healthy, homemade option for lunch.
3. Screens can cause eye strain
Computer Eye Strain (CSE) is a common problem experienced by workers who use laptops and PCs every day. Although there is (as yet) no evidence that significant screen use can cause long term eyesight problems. CSE itself can also be extremely uncomfortable.
To help tackle the impact of heavy screen use, make sure you have a regular sight test. According to the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, your employer must provide these to workers making everyday use of screens. Taking regular screen breaks (perhaps combine this with your hourly movement break) can also reduce the impact of computer use on your vision. Consider adapting your workstation to minimize glare on the screen and switch to glasses if you are a habitual contact lens wearer, too.