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Top 6 dangers lurking in your office
Posted by David Cant on May 21, 2013
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Afraid of losing our jobs, we’re putting in hours of overtime and it can sometimes feel like we spend more time at work than at home. But offices can be a minefield of potential health disasters waiting to happen which can cause you serious, long-term harm if you don’t take care of yourself.

These are some of the biggest dangers to watch out for…

Danger 1: your computer screen

Staring at a computer screen for prolonged periods can give you eyestrain. And bad lighting compounds the problems, as it asks your eyes to work overtime so you can see.

Overworking the tiny muscles in your eyes or not wearing the right prescription for your glasses could even cause glaucoma, an eye disease which could leave you blind if it’s not treated.

Danger 2: sitting

Scientists have issued their warning: sitting too long is bad news for your health and ups your risk of becoming overweight and getting Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. And if you think you’re immune because you’re a gym bunny after work, think again – you’re still at risk even if you’re active the rest of the time.

Next time you need to talk to a colleague, actually get up and walk over to their desk instead of sending them an email. Go grab a cup of tea (preferably herbal) or glass of water every so often. Actually take your lunch break and go for a stroll. Even little things help.

Danger 3: bad posture

Being hunched over your desk all day can cause long-term damage to your back and neck, leaving you with chronic pain.

Insist that your employer gives you a good chair which supports your back that that your desk and chair are positioned at the right height. For your part, make sure your feet sit firmly on the ground when you’re sitting down and be mindful of your posture.

If they refuse and you wind up with a serious spinal injury, you’ll be well within your rights to call a spinal injury solicitor to talk to them about taking legal action.

Danger 4: stress

Work-induced stress is a serious mental health issue. Mental health charity Mind has found that stress is driving 57 per cent of adults to drink heavily after work and 7 per cent even reported having suicidal thoughts because they were so under pressure.

Traffic jams or long commutes, constant emails and difficult colleagues all chip away at us, and researchers at the University of California have found that everyday annoyances we encounter can lead to more serious mental health issues later in life.

Your employer should support you if you’re having any mental health problems. If you feel that your workload is unfair or if a particular issue or person is causing you stress, talk to your line manager instead of bottling it all up.

If you and your GP feel that you need to take some time off, don’t feel that you’re alone – almost 50 per cent of long-term absences from work are due to mental health issues, according to the NHS. Your employer should support your decision and help you make the transition back to work when you’re ready.

Danger 5: bad diet

When we’re pushed for time and under pressure, one of the first things to go flying out the window is our good intentions when it comes to our diet. Planning and preparing healthy meals ahead takes time and energy, but many of us skip breakfast altogether lunch al desko with a sandwich we’ve grabbed and rely on ready meals and fat-laden takeaways for dinner because we’re too shattered to cook.

On top of that, we’re fuelling ourselves with cup and cups of caffeinated drinks (which leech nutrients from your body) and self-medicating with alcohol to unwind (which is bad news for your liver). Many people also need to socialise as part of their jobs, so are forced into situations where alcohol is free-flowing and sipping orange juice is not an option.

This is a toxic mix. Not getting the right nutrients and minerals can play havoc with your immune system, leaving you susceptible to colds and infections or resulting in osteoporosis. And if you’re taking in too many calories and unhealthy fats, you could wind up with a serious condition like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease eventually.

Danger 6: not enough sleep

Another side effect of working long hours and being under pressure is not getting enough sleep. Hardworking Brits are finding it difficult to switch off over office worries, and many are woken up by work emails mid-slumber because they take their smartphones to bed with them.

But lack of sleep is a serious health issue, and it too has been linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease as well as weight gain (and all the associated health problems that brings).

If you work in an office, has it affected your health? How do you stay fighting fit?

About 

David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

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