Both sitting and standing too much at work can be bad for worker health
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on the ergonomic hazards of standing, sitting, lifting and other forms of exertion at work, analyzing data from part of its National Health Interview Survey. The CDC says identifying what ergonomic hazards are prevalent in which industries or occupations can help employers intervene where necessary.
- Ergonomic hazards, such as constant twisting or bending, can cause injuries, many of which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders cost the U.S. $2.6 billion a year in healthcare, productivity and other costs.
- While sitting has received the bulk of media attention as of late, prolonged standing can cause health problems, such as back pain, muscle pain and physical fatigue, the CDC says.
HR managers can arrange to have workers trained in the proper way to lift, pull, stand, push, sit and perform other tasks. Employees whose physical exertion or poor posture threatens their health and impedes productivity. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers training and guidance on preventing workplace injuries.
Some have said that employers may need to be liable for any health problems related to sitting, as well. No word yet on how successful suing a company over such issues would be. But some businesses have opted to make a balance of sitting and standing part of their wellness programs, introducing standing desks and walking meetings to their workforces.
When considering ergonomics, however, employers may forget about their remote workers. Remote workers are at just as much risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders and other health problems. Their homes or other offsite locations might not be equipped with ergonomically correct chairs, desks and other furnishings, so some employers have opted to provide those items. Discussing appropriate home-office setups with remote workers can help them create comfortable, ergonomically correct workspaces.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Frequent Exertion and Frequent Standing at Work, by Industry and Occupation Group — United States, 2015
- HR Dive Employers should be liable for sitting-related health problems, researchers say