Lesser-Known Health Risks in the Office

Health Risks in the Office

Negosentro.com | Lesser-Known Health Risks in the Office | Every day, the employees of the world wake up and go to work fully intending to have a safe day and return home in the same condition that they left. For some of the more dangerous jobs, like those in construction, farming, or steelwork, the idea of safety and working smart is blatantly obvious, but even if you work in an office from 9 to 5, you still need to be aware of some common and not so common threats.

To remain in tip-top shape, office employees should be educated on the potential threats around the office, from avoiding trips and slips to being mindful of how you sit in your office chair. While employees need to be cautious, employers also need to do their part to create a healthy and happy workplace so their staff is productive and eager to return to work day after day. To that end, let’s discuss some less obvious health risks and how employers and their teams can avoid them.

Threats in Your Cubicle

Even your cozy office cubicle can cause you harm if you are not smart about how you work and fill the space. An element that can cause a lot of pain and discomfort is your office chair, especially if you sit for long periods of time. In fact, some studies show that people who sit for more than six hours a day die younger than people who spend more time walking around. The problem is that when you don’t move for long periods, your body takes a proverbial break, which leads to a lack of blood flow and a drop in metabolism, both of which can lead to dangerous weight gain and damage to your veins. 

To ensure healthy employees, management should make it a point to encourage all personnel to take their two breaks and lunch each day so they can get up and move about. On top of that, if the budget allows, get standing desks for your staff. When you use a standing desk, you not only keep your body energized and lower the risk of obesity, but you also reduce your risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. If you can’t afford standing desks, then at least provide ergonomic chairs with strong back support, which will reduce pain and provide posture support for a straight spine.

Since staring at screens all day has become a way of life, we tend to forget about the health risks for our eyes when we stare at mobile devices and computer screens for too long. If you don’t take breaks, you could develop computer vision syndrome, which could lead to blurred vision, double vision, and even headaches and back pain over time. To reduce the risk of eye damage, follow the 20-20-20 rule, which involves looking away from your screen every 20 minutes at an object that is 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Also, eye drops can reduce any redness. 

Stress and Mental Health

In addition to safeguarding your employees from physical dangers, employers must also prioritize the mental health of their teams. Management and the human resources department must learn to listen to employee concerns and act appropriately to address them. This should start with an open-door policy where employees are encouraged to report physical risks and mental issues such as being over-stressed or over-worked. 

It is important to create a work-life balance for your employees, so they are not taking on too much without putting aside some time for vacation and family. If possible, change to a four-day workweek with 10-hour shifts, so all employees have that extra time outside of the office. Employees with young children or disabilities may need a flexible schedule that might include starting later in the day or taking longer lunches. If your business can make these accommodations and still achieve daily business goals, then this flexibility will go a long way to showing your staff that you care.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies had to move to a remote workforce to keep their businesses afloat. While many employees like the idea of working from home, some people can feel lonely or isolated when not with their coworkers. Management can make all employees feel included by hosting weekly video conferences where everyone can see each other’s faces and get that connection that many desire.

As a manager, you want your employees to feel happy when they are at work because a healthier employee will call out less often and be more productive overall.

Invisible Threats

While many people find that going to the office helps them be more productive and communicate more easily with their coworkers, some invisible threats can cause you harm just by walking in the front door. For instance, if you are working in an older building, you may be exposed to asbestos, which is a highly dangerous chemical once found in many building materials. Asbestos is dangerous because when inhaled, the fibers can burrow into your lungs and lead to diseases like lung cancer or mesothelioma. 

Companies that work in buildings built before the 1980s should request an asbestos inspection, and if the chemical is found, the components that contain it must be removed and replaced by a licensed contractor. Air quality, in general, should be a consideration for management as inadequate ventilation systems can lead to asthma attacks and respiratory disorders for your staff. Verify with building maintenance that ventilation systems are up to the current code and that they are inspected for mold and water damage.

In addition to dangerous chemicals, office employees should also be cautious of germs found on commonly used surfaces in the breakroom and bathrooms. With the arrival of COVID-19, this is as important as ever. All surfaces must be wiped down after each use, and soap and hand sanitizer dispensers must be refilled regularly. 

While office jobs will always be much safer than some outdoor careers, caution is still necessary. When management and their staff work together, it creates a healthy and positive work environment for all.