The Health and Safety Executive’s Labour Force Survey for 2011/12 revealed that around 27 million working days were lost in the British workplace for that period. The majority of these days off were due to stress, depression, anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders.
Whilst these figures are actually an improvement on previous surveys (indeed the total number of days taken off work due to work-related illness and workplace injuries has fallen during the last decade) they still show great cause for concern.
After all, most people spend a large proportion of their time in the workplace so it makes perfect sense that individual employees would want to ensure their health and well-being is looked after while they are at work.
Fortunately there are number of things which both employers and employees can do to improve their occupational health
Take regular breaks
This doesn’t mean that workers should just be allowed to get up and go outside for a ‘fag break’ whenever they like; no, this refers to giving employees respite from occupational tasks that tend to cause repetitive strain injuries (RSI). RSI is typically caused by doing a particular activity on a repetitive basis for a long period of time and mainly affects people who work with computers or manual labour tools/devices. Repetitive strain injuries can be very painful and normally affect areas of the upper body such as the elbow, wrist, shoulders and neck. Taking short, regular breaks from repetitive tasks can be hugely beneficial as it gives individuals a chance to relax their muscles and ease the tension on their body.
It has become common practice for workers – especially office workers – to eat at their workstations nowadays. The most convenient choice of food to snack on in this way is junk food from vending machines and fast food brought in from nearby food oultets. Needless to say, the very nature of this kind of food ensures it is far from the healthiest culinary option for workers to consume, especially on a daily basis. Employees who know they are likely to stay at their desk during lunch should prepare packed lunches of their own the night before they go to work as this will give them the opportunity to include food options which might actually benefit their health.
Invest in decent office furniture
Working at uncomfortable and impractical workstations is a key cause of musculoskeletal disorders. Employers need to do all they can to ensure their employees have good quality modern office furniture solutions available to work at as this will reduce the likelihood of them going off sick with a physical ailment. Investing in comfortable chairs is often the most first move to make in this direction as having adequate back support is a simple yet hugely effective way of reducing employees’ chances of suffering with backache. Ergonomic desks and other contemporary office furniture items are also worth investing in as they are designed to engender good posture and allay health risks amongst office-based employees.
About the author – Bo Heamyan blogs regularly about the trials of working in the twenty-first century and has written extensively about the benefits of high quality office furniture for various industry related websites, including Calibre-furniture.co.uk.