Is Your Job Harming Your Health?

Is your work causing damage to your mental and physical health? Whilst advances in health and safety have helped to reduce workplace accidents, there are still many jobs with long-term negative effects that can be less easy to safeguard against. Here are a few things in your workplace that could be causing harm to your health and what you can do about them.

Sitting down all day

If you’re sat behind a desk all day or spend most your time sat in a vehicle, you could be causing long-term physical damage. A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and even cancer. It’s bad for the blood flow in our legs and can lead to deep vein thrombosis, arthritis and varicose veins. Leaning over when sitting meanwhile is bad for the back and can result in painful spinal problems later on in life.

Weight gain, an achy back and achy knees could be a sign that you’re already getting some of these symptoms. To prevent further damage, you should start making a conscious effort to get up during the day and walk around. If you work in an office, try to take five minute breaks every hour to walk around (you may be able to still spend this time making phone calls or discussing work with colleagues). If you drive for a living, try to make conscious effort to get out and walk around every time you pull up somewhere. Small bursts of physical activity throughout the day can be enough to keep you healthy.

Noise exposure

Constant exposure to loud noise could be damaging your hearing. This could lead to partial or even deafness in the long run. Commonly loud work environments include construction sites, airports, factories, nightclubs and music venues.

Wearing ear protection is the best defence against hearing damage. Most workplaces that exceed safe noise levels are now required by law to supply ear protection, however you may still want to supply your own as the quality of these may not always be the best. If you notice your hearing already fading, it could be worth looking into getting a hearing aid. With the help of a hearing specialist, you should be able to find the best hearing aids for your level of hearing. Not wearing a hearing aid could cause strain on your ear and make your hearing worse.

Repetitive strain

Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are aches and cramps caused by repeated arm motions. They tend to develop later in life and may start as a temporary pain after doing a certain activity, eventually becoming a permanent pain. Activities that can develop RSIs include working on an assembly line, working at a supermarket checkout or working at a computer. Besides posture make sure you have the right lighting from while working behind a desk. 

Poor posture tends to lead to an increase in the risk of an RSI. For example, when typing on a computer, you should make sure that your arms are at a 90 degree angle to the keyboard and that you’re not leaning over or straining to one side. If you’ve already developed an RSI, you may be able to buy an arm support to reduce the pain as well as using medication.

Work-related stress

Work-related stress can be very dangerous both for your mental and physical health. It can lead to anxiety and depression, whilst causing raised blood pressure that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Stress is most dangerous when it is chronic – if you’re constantly stressed at work, you could be causing long term damage to your mind and body.

If you can’t avoid stress at work, it could be worth looking into ways of relieving stress. Meditation, exercise and taking a hot bath, buy coffee cup sleeves and enjoy a moment for yourself are all effective ways to de-stress at the end of a long day. Treating yourself to a break from work is also important – by taking a few days off, you could help to lower your cortisol levels and give your body and mind time to recover. Most jobs have stressful periods, but no job should be causing severe stress every day – if this is the case, it could be time to look for another job.

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