Is Your Job Harming Your Health? Health Hazards at Work
All jobs come with their health hazards. While some are obvious, others are more hidden. By taking the right precautions at work, you can stop your job from damaging your health. Here are just a few of the main hidden health hazards found in the average workplace.
Sitting down all day
A sedentary lifestyle can cause a variety of health problems over time. Weight gain as a result of low physical activity can increase the risk of joint problems, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Sitting for long periods also increases the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins.
When possible, take the chance to get up and move. Exercising before or after work could help, while not eating lunch at your desk can also make a positive impact.
Standing up all day
Some occupations can pose the opposite danger – which is standing up for long periods. This can cause damage to joints in the ankles, knees and hips, as well as causing lower back pain. Such examples may include working in a restaurant or a hospital.
If you can’t find the time to sit down regularly, take some of the strain off by leaning somewhere. Wearing comfortable footwear can also reduce the risk of developing such health problems (i.e. don’t wear heels).
Repetitive strain injuries
Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) can develop from continuously performing a repetitive task such as typing on a keyboard or scanning items on a supermarket conveyor belt. This may start as a dull ache in the wrist or shoulder, but develop into a permanent pain.
RSIs are common causes of worker’s compensation claims. It is up to an employer to allow regular breaks and provide a suitable ergonomic environment. Altering your posture may be able to help prevent injury such as keeping your elbows level with the keyboard while typing.
Loud noise exposure
Some work environments can be very noisy, which can cause hearing damage over prolonged periods. Such work environments could include music venues, construction sites and airports.
An employer should similarly provide ear protection in such environments. By wearing ear protection, you may be able to reduce the risk of hearing damage.
Poor air quality
A lot of workplaces have poor air quality. Dust, chemical fumes, mold and radon are all dangers that can lead to respiratory issues.
Good ventilation or use of air purifiers can help to keep the air clean. This is up to an employer to arrange – if you believe that the air quality is unhealthy, you should notify your employer to see what can be done about it.
A stressful job could also be damaging your health. Chronic stress could lead to depression or anxiety. It can also damage a person’s physical health by causing hypertension, muscles cramps, headaches and potentially heart disease (its why stress is often referred to as ‘the biggest killer’).
Many jobs have their periods of stress. By engaging in stress relief measures such as meditating or exercising, you may be able to beat stress. It’s also important to take breaks including holidays. If a job results in continuous stress, it could be worth quitting and finding a job that isn’t so high pressure.