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Ergonomics 101: Sitting still could increase your employees' sick days...

by , 06 November 2013
If I ask you to name the number one cause of employee illnesses and sick leave requests, you'll probably list the usual suspects: Colds, flus and tummy bugs. But did you know the musculoskeletal injuries are actually the biggest threat to organisations? And that jobs requiring employees to sit down for extended periods (at their computers) are among the riskiest for these injuries?

The unhealthy posture adopted by employees who sit at their PC for hours on end, as well as the associated health risks (think deep vein thrombosis, for example) result in employees taking ever more sick leave.
 
Which means your company is paying more for sick leave, but getting less productivity from staff.
 
Here's what you can do NOW to prevent ergonomic injuries that result in increases in lost work time
 
The cure?
 
According to the Health and Safety Advisor, make sure you highlight the importance of good ergonomics in your business. This mean you need to adapt workstations for each employee, so they don't have to crane their necks or strain their eyes or back muscles to get their work done. Their feet should touch the ground when they're seated and they should have space on their desk to rest their wrists or forearms. Their chairs should also have lumbar support, to prevent lower back injuries.
 
Beyond the ergonomics, it's important to raise awareness about the dangers of being too sedentary at work. After all, a sedentary person is at risk for lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension, as well as heart disease. And that means you need to remind employees to take regular breaks from their work, to stretch and move around.
 
Encourage employees to pursue a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet and exercise, as this helps them avoid other risk factors that compound the problem. Suggest that employees take the stairs, or help them get together during lunch breaks for a walk around the block. In fact, why not start up an office netball or cricket team, as this promotes a positive interaction among employees while also furthering their health and fitness goals.
 
Remember, a healthy workforce is a more productive workforce! It's in your company's best interest to encourage healthy living. 

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