Occupational health and safety hazards are usually associated with physical jobs, such as construction, mining and factory work.
Yet a recent study by the University of Sydney has revealed that sitting still comes with its own set of risks.
Researchers surveyed more than 900 office workers and found that 85 per cent of people who spent more than eight hours a day sitting in front of a computer had experienced neck pain.
This was closely followed by shoulder pain (74 per cent) and lower back pain (70 per cent).
Spending long periods of time sedentary has also been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
Lead study author Karin Griffiths, a doctoral candidate at the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences, believes that employers need to look at ways to improve the wellbeing of their corporate executives.
She suggests that occupational health and safety regulations for these types of jobs may need to be reviewed.
“Since I started assessing offices for computer workstation safety in the early 1980s, I’ve noticed massive changes with the amount of computer work now performed by office workers, particularly professional and executive workers,” she explained in a statement issued yesterday (August 29).
Ms Griffiths said that although there has been changes to workplace design and more education about seating and health, this has not resulted in a drop in the number of back pain complaints.
It seems that other health complications are also on the rise due to the sedentary corporate lifestyle.
“Recent research shows that prolonged sitting and the lack of physical activity associated with computer work is the main problem, and may be contributing to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity along with musculoskeletal pain,” Ms Griffiths said.
She hopes that this study will inspire some employers to rethink the way their workplaces are designed.
Making simple changes, such as creating standing workstations or encouraging staff to move around more, could significantly improve health and wellbeing.
“Offices need to be designed to stimulate physical activity among employees,” Ms Griffiths advises.
If you are an office worker, or spend a long time in front of a computer as part of your job, then it is important that you are seated at your desk correctly.
You may want to speak to your employer about occupational health and safety guidelines, and explore ways that you can prevent the onset of any injuries.
In the case that you are injured, then you may be able to apply for workers compensation.