10 Ways Your Office Harms Your Health

by Admin on October 12, 2010

Your job could be killing you – or is it your office? When you think about environmental hazards, you might think about the great outdoors, but it might be inside where you work where you face the most dangerous environment.

Read about 10 ways your office harms your health and then find ways that you can use to make it safer.

  1. Avoid open plan – Open plan office settings have been shown to have workers with the most health problems and the highest rate of job dissatisfaction. If you have the option, try working in a setting where you either have a private office or where there is a flexible layout (no dedicated personal workspace) because those are the environments that have been found to be most conducive to good health. Whatever you do though, avoid the open office.
  2. Working at home can be harmful to your health – Most of the problems home workers experience stem from spending so much time alone. Even worse, when you work at home you are more likely to let up on your personal hygiene and grooming standards (after all, no one will see you, right?). Home workers are less likely to have health insurance, meaning that they are reluctant to see a health care professional. This leads to health problems for home workers that often become unnecessarily severe before treatment is sought.
  3. Night work is hazardous to your health – As established in a high profile Danish case, working at night increases the risk of breast cancer in women. As a result, the Danish government has recognized breast cancer as an occupational sickness. Medical evidence has documented that working at night disrupts human biorhythms in a manner that promotes the development of tumors caused by hormones. This should be enough to make everyone want to work during the day.
  4. The view outside makes a big difference – Studies show that workers who watch a lot of traffic are more likely to have stress related health problems. In contrast, those who work near a window have much better health and less stress.
  5. Reduce noise – Noise in the workplace has been found to contribute to stress and to high levels of job dissatisfaction. If you want to improve your mental and physical health at work, see what can be done to keep things quiet or request a place to work that is less disruptive.
  6. Provide excellent seating – Posture has a detrimental effect on your health at work, especially when sitting at a computer workstation. Back pain, nerve problems, muscle fatigue, curvature of the spine, and circulatory problems all result from sitting at a desk during the work day. Malformed breasts result from a hunched back or stooped shoulders, creating breast muscle deterioration. This causes problems with physical appearance that can negatively impact one’s self esteem and cause tangible health issues.
  7. Consider emissions from hardware – Harmful emissions from technology that include radiation come from computer monitors and other equipment located in close proximity to the worker. The result is ageing skin that amounts to disfigurement and other ailments such as cancer.
  8. Avoid long term isolation – Depression is a known issue for workers who work at home or work in a private office. The lack of interaction with coworkers makes these workers feel isolated, ignored, and often unimportant. Even though office workers with their own office are healthier physically, they seem to have more mental health issues. The social interaction of either a shared room with two or three work areas or a flexible office where workers share a collective work area offers important mental and physical wellness benefits that make them preferred office configurations.
  9. Take regular breaks for your eyes – Eye damage and vision impairment often are observable in office workers who spend the majority of their day looking at a computer screen. Help minimize the damage to your cornea by looking away at distant points for several minutes every half hour.
  10. RSI – Repetitive motion injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome set the stage for permanent disabilities among office workers. Permanent nerve and muscle damage can leave workers dealing with chronic pain for the rest of their lives. Focus on creating an ergonomic work environment and pause regularly to do exercises at your work station to relieve stress.

Just because you work in an office doesn’t mean that you are safe from harm. These 10 ways your office harms your health represent just some of the hazards you deal with every day. Learn more about how your job impacts your health and take corrective action now.

John Brook is a writer who guest posts regularly about business productivity. He currently works at OfficeKitten.co.uk reviewing office supplies and presentation supplies for businesses.

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