Staying Healthy in the Workplace

Sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen 8 hours a day, 5 days per week can take a toll on your body and your health.

Although Health and Safety Regulations require employers to carry out individual workstation risk assessments (and where requested, pay for eye examinations for those working on Visual Display Unit’s); there is a lot that you can do for yourself to avoid the aches, pains and stresses of working in an office.

Follow our tips to stay healthy and in shape at work;

Back and neck pain:

The body needs regular motion and activity to function properly; it isn’t natural for our spine to be sat in a chair for hours at a time.

Help avoid muscle tightness, tenderness and pain in your back and neck by being aware of your posture, ensure that your chair provides sufficient lumbar support and you are seated right to the back of the chair.

Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor and ensure your keyboard, mouse, phone and monitor are at an ideal height and distance. Avoid cradling the phone under your chin with your head to one side and shoulder raised. Instead, inquire about a headset to avoid neck strain.

Do not sit for long periods in a fixed posture, it is a good idea to stand up and move around every 30 minutes for 2 minutes.

Repetitive strain injury:

RSI is a general term as it refers to aches and pains in any part of the upper body caused by poor working posture or overuse. RSI commonly affects the arms, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers, neck and shoulder.

Ensure you use a wrist rest and avoid keeping wrists in a fixed position; flex and shake out every so often.

Eye Strain:

Extensive research has found no evidence that working at a computer screen causes any permanent damage to eyes. However computer work is visually demanding and working for long spells can lead to tired eyes and headaches so take a break, attend to another task or get up and move around.

You should sit an arm’s distance from the screen. If you are unable to see the screen clearly at that distance consider changing the size of the font. Position the screen in order to avoid glare from overhead lights or sunlight through a window.

Lifting:

Don’t hurt your back by lifting or handling objects incorrectly. Always plan your lift and use two or more persons if necessary.

Always bend your knees, keeping your back straight as possible and avoid twisting.

Eating:

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration thus alleviating headaches, tiredness, and irritability.

Working at a computer is a sedentary occupation so, to avoid piling on the pounds, try to say no to the holiday treats and birthday cakes.

Eating healthily can greatly improve your concentration, so enjoy eggs, avocado, fish, blueberries, nuts and all whole grain products.

Try and stay clear of carbohydrates and large meals at lunchtime or you will suffer from the 3.00 lag.

Get out at lunchtime and go for a walk to get some exercise.

Germs:

Unfortunately, we cannot afford to take time off work each time we are ill but there are things that you can do to limit your exposure to germs whilst at work.

Wash your hands often with antibacterial soap, especially before eating food and after using the toilet.

Where you can, give those with colds and other illnesses a wide berth and unfortunately if that happens to be you make sure you dispose of your germ ridden tissues and wash your hands. Sanitise regularly and each time after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose to keep those pesky germs to yourself and avoid infecting the whole office.

Did you know that your desk harbours more germs that a toilet seat? Your keyboard, mouse and phone harbour thousands of germs. Be sure to clean them regularly to avoid unwanted illness.

Stress:

Unfortunately, with our hectic and busy lifestyles, we all suffer from stress to some degree. Did you know that stress not only causes headaches and fatigue but also has an impact on your immune system? Ongoing stress has also been known to lead to severe anxiety and depression.

Start the day by organising your workload. This will make a significant difference to your productivity and stress levels.

Know your limits and do your best within the limits of your job; you cannot undertake everything so delegate where you can.

If work is mounting up speak to your line manager or boss and ask for help before things spiral out of control.

Take regular breaks, go make a cuppa and take a couple of deep breaths and stretch out your back and shoulders.

Make sure you go out at lunch time and get some fresh air and exercise; lifting your mood and clearing your mind.

Schedule your holidays throughout the year and take them, it is a time to rest and recharge your batteries.

Leave work right there where it belongs; at work! Do not take it home with you!

For more information:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/workplacehealth/Pages/workplaceoverview.aspx
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/workplacehealth/Pages/Backpainatwork.aspx
http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/index.htm
http://www.freeofficefinder.com/article/20-ultimate-tips-to-stay-healthy-at-the-office