When compared with work that involves strenuous manual labour, a desk job may seem like a relatively low-risk profession. However, while the office may not be the most dangerous of working environments, there are still a surprising number of hidden hazards that are overlooked everyday. Not only do these risks pose a threat to the wellbeing of your personnel, they can also reduce productivity levels and result in absenteeism.
The first step towards protecting your employees from office-related risks should be to raise awareness of the potential threats. Enrolling your staff on health and safety courses can be an effective way to help promote a healthier office setting. Carrying out regular risk assessments and monitoring potential hazards can also help to ensure the wellbeing of your workers.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the common health and safety risks that lurk in today’s office environment:
We all know how sedentary working environments can be bad for our health, but how many of us take the time to improve our working conditions? One of the biggest health problems office workers face is backache. In fact, back pain is the primary cause of long-term sickness in the UK and it results in millions of lost work days every year.
The best way to combat poor posture is to ensure workstations are set up correctly. To reduce the strain placed on your back, chairs should be adjusted so that the lower back is supported and your knees are level with your hips. Extended periods of inactivity can also lead to long-term back problems. This can be prevented by taking regular breaks from sitting down.
Repetitive strain injury
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a condition that affects many office workers, and can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome in the fingers and wrists. To prevent this, keyboards should be positioned around four to six inches away from your hands and your elbows should be at a right angle to your body. It’s also important to take breaks from typing every few minutes.
Eye, neck and shoulder strain
Staring at a computer screen all day can lead to all sorts of problems, such as blurred vision, dry eyes and headaches.This group of health risks falls under name Computer Vision Syndrome, which can have a negative impact on productivity levels. To avoid having to strain to see the screen, desktops should be at eye height and positioned at arms length away. It’s also important to make sure that screens are well lit and free from glare.
Another often overlooked health issue in the office is phone strain. Holding the phone between your ear and shoulder for long periods of time can place excessive strain on your neck muscles. Using headsets instead of handheld phones is the simplest way to prevent this.
As well the physical risks, mental health should also be taken into account when assessing office-related health hazards. From impending deadlines to workplace bullying, stress can be triggered by a number of factors and, if left unchecked, it can have health-threatening repercussions. To minimise the effects of stress, managers and supervisors should take the time to learn to spot the signs of stress and practice good stress management.