While working in an office is a normal part of many people’s daily lives, it might not occur to you the plethora of ways in which this can impact your health. When thinking about office health and safety, many people might think of just the physical aspects such as how poor posture and unorganised computer wires can affect workers. But there are also significant mental health risks of office work too when employees have too much work, are stressed, or are bullied in the workplace. This article explores how working in an office can often take a toll on both your physical and mental health, and how to take better care of yourself every day.
Health and safety in the office: The ergonomic risks of sitting at desks
Unfortunately, working long hours at an office desk can disrupt a healthy lifestyle as employees end up sitting for hours at a time, multiple days a week, without moving about a lot. The most prevalent way in which you may feel your health suffering in an office environment is through poor ergonomics. Most employees sit at a desk all day, and if this desk is not ergonomically appropriate then this can cause issues such as back pain, neck and shoulder strain, and issues like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Promoting proper desk sitting etiquette is important for office health and safety to ensure that your employees are comfortable and not straining themselves. To reduce the chances of a severe toll, you should ensure that your desk and screen are at a good height and that your chair is supportive and comfortable, promoting good posture.
Other health risks of office work you should also be aware of how best to place your arms and hands while typing – an ergonomic wrist support can help with this. If necessary, a sit-stand desk can be extremely beneficial to some, as it gives you the opportunity to regularly change position, which is a good way to relieve pressure and strain on your body. To relieve some of the strain of sitting down for hours everyday at your desk, take a look at the many tips online which can teach you how to take a break from your desk in an effective way. Taking a walk between tasks, stretching your neck and back, and listening to when your body starts to ache, are just some useful tips to help you relieve any office work health risks of sitting at a desk for too long.
Office health and safety issues to be mindful of
Offices should generally be safe environments, but being aware of the many preventable health risks of office work can help to prevent any accidents. For example, you should keep track of where your computer and other electrical wires are and whether they are in good condition, both to prevent electric shocks and tripping hazards. You should also check that good fire safety is being upheld, with outlets not being overloaded to reduce this risk. Employers should prioritise their employees and put health and safety in the office first.
Health risks of office work: Problems with eye health
One of the biggest ways in which office work can take a toll on your health is through the use of screens. Now that screens have become so much a part of our daily lives that we are rarely away from them, both at work and at home, this can have a severe impact on your vision. Therefore, it’s important for many businesses to now consider screen usage in office health and safety. Looking at a computer screen for multiple hours a day can cause eye strain, dry eyes, and deteriorating vision over time. To remedy this, you should take regular breaks away from your screen, consciously blink and move your eyes, and ensure that you are having your eyes tested regularly to check whether you require new glasses or contact lenses to lessen strain. You should also consider investing in blue light blocking lenses, as these reduce the amount of harmful light emitted from screens and reduce vision issues.
To relieve your eyes, it’s also crucial for office workers to get the right amount of sleep each night. Sleep is important for eye health for a variety of reasons and sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on your eyesight over time. Lack of sleep can cause a range of problems such as eye strain, blurry vision and light sensitivity. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you go to bed at a suitable time and get in all the hours you need to wake up feeling fresh and rejuvenated in the morning. Giving our eyes time to rest is important to help us take a break from screens and reduce any eye problems that might occur.
Office work health risks: Stress and looking after your mental health
As well as the physical considerations of office health and safety, it’s also important to remember that there is the mental health of employees to consider too. Perhaps the least discussed of all the ways office work can impact your health is the effects of stress and how your mental health can suffer. Poor mental health can result in missed work and have a devastating impact on both your professional and personal life, so understanding how your office life impacts this is essential. Workplace stress occurs when you feel overwhelmed and as though your workload is too much for you to manage. This can also be caused or exacerbated by a lack of support and not feeling as though you can take time away from your work.
To combat stress and forget about work, there are many useful tips to promote your mental wellness which you can incorporate into your weekly routine. Switching off from social media, exercising, and keeping a journal are just many great activities that can help us destress and unwind. It can also be useful to speak to your line manager or HR department about increased stress before it becomes unmanageable, as a risk assessment can be carried out and support offered. If you feel you may be at risk, ensure that you are taking regular breaks away from your desk, and not taking your work home with you as standard to try and reduce your stress levels.