It’s a good feeling when you have a great day at work, and even better when you get paid for it at the end of the month! But while the workplace can be an exciting, productive and enjoyable place to be, it can also have detrimental effects on your health if you’re not careful.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common ways a workplace can damage your health, and ways that you can defend yourself against them:
You might think that this one would be focused more on office workers who spend a lot of time sitting at desks in chairs. However, in professions where you are constantly on your feet, you are even more likely to suffer from poor circulation. The hospitality industry and factory workers often suffer from varicose veins and other forms of poor circulation, and it can be tough to shake it off.
Concentrate on getting plenty of exercise outside of work, especially walking and swimming, and make sure you take any opportunity to stretch your legs that you can. This should get the blood circulating through the veins again.
Back and Spine Damage
Office workers often get into bad habits with their posture that can give you a lot of pain and discomfort in the short term but can lead to back and spinal damage down the line, if the correct measures aren’t taken.
Talk to your boss about getting more comfortable furniture, including chairs and desks that support your back and shoulders and prevent you from hunching over your computer screen. A standing desk is known to improve productivity and take away strain from the back, and if you can, into buying the best standing desk mat you can get. These are designed to keep you active throughout the day, saving you from spending too long in a sedentary position.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are two of the biggest issues in the workplace in relation to health. According to a Health and Safety Executive report from the United Kingdom, 12.5 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17 in the UK alone. You can imagine just how many were lost worldwide!
Whether it’s due to feeling overworked, getting behind on your work and or feeling a lack of support from management or colleagues, it’s very easy for employees to feel stress and anxiety seep into themselves. When it takes hold, it can be scary and cause more problems at work because you won’t be able to turn it off and continue with a task. The best course of action is to talk to your manager the moment you feel too stressed or anxious or visit your workplace HR department. Both should make sure that you get the help that you need, either at work or home.
People used to write depression off as just feeling a bit sad, but now that there has been more studies and support towards mental health conditions over the past decade, and depression is now recognised as one of the largest health issues that arise from the workplace.
If you already suffer from depression, feelings of stress and anxiety, not fitting in with your colleagues or simply being under a lot of pressure every day will make your depression worse, and it could lead to self-harm or worse down the road. You don’t want to bury these feelings deep inside, talk to somebody at work, and see your Doctor as soon as possible. There are medication and counselling available to everybody. You don’t have to suffer alone.
Obesity is an epidemic that has been sweeping the globe for decades, but the western world is by far the worst, with 35% of adults across 5 US states suffering from obesity, and 30% of adults from 20 states also suffering. Poor diet, lack of exercise and a bad lifestyle are to blame for the majority of these cases, and you can be sure that a poor workplace lifestyle is also to blame.
Office workers, truck drivers, factory staff and many more employees are working in industries that do not support a healthy lifestyle, but there are changes you can make to your daily routine that can help. Take regular breaks to stretch your legs, get more exercise outside of work and think about what you eat while you’re at work. That vending machine that sits ten metres from your desk? Ignore it. You’ll be thankful you did.
Poor Working Conditions
A poorly maintained, untidy or fault-ridden working environment can contribute to any of the issues already mentioned and can cause accidents and injuries that can take you out of work for any amount of time. The most common causes of accidents include slipping/tripping, falling (either from a ladder or steps) and being struck by an object. These are all preventable if the correct health and safety procedures are being followed.
It is the responsibility of the business owner and the management to ensure that all working conditions are kept to the highest standard and that all employees feel comfortable to report any issues that they notice or are suffering with.
Unfortunately for many employees, some managers don’t pull their weight when it comes to making the workplace as safe and productive an environment as it can be. It can be anything from not spending the money on the best equipment to use, to kitting out an office with comfortable furniture that their employees will enjoy working at. What is even worse is when employees report these instances to managers, and they don’t take it seriously and ignore them. When this happens, it is essential that employees report any issues to the HR and Health and Safety departments or officer. These issues should soon be cleared up and plans should be put in place to ensure that the problem is dealt with and you can go back to doing your job in a safe and productive workplace.