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Your job may not seem particularly dangerous, but it could still be harming your physical health. Here are some of the hidden ways in which everyday jobs can take a toll on our health and what you can do to reduce the risks.
Stress is often said to be the biggest killer. It damages our immune system, increases our blood pressure and can affect the ability to get to sleep. In the long run, it can lead to heart disease and strokes. It’s also been heavily linked with cancer. On top of this, stress is a leading cause of depression and anxiety.
Most people experience periods of stress within their jobs but if you’re constantly stressed it could be worth looking into ways of relieving stress. Exercise, meditation and listening to music are just a few proven stress-busters. Alternatively, it could be time for a holiday from work – or even a new job if you don’t feel this will help.
Sitting down all day
Many of today’s jobs involve sitting down all day, whether it’s sitting behind a desk or sitting behind a steering wheel. Sitting down all day can lead to weight gain through inactivity, which itself can lead to all kinds of health problems. Poor posture while sitting down can also lead to back problems.
Taking regular breaks from work to get up and be active can help combat weight gain, while ensuring that your chair/seat is properly adjusted so that you’re not leaning forward could prevent you getting a bad back. There may be treatment options that you can explore if you’ve already got a bad back from sitting down all day such as looking into a worker’s compensation back surgeon. As for combating weight gain, it could be a case of exercising more out of work hours and improving your diet (no more snacking at the desk).
Repetitive movements such as typing on a keyboard, scanning items on a conveyor belt or using certain power tools can eventually lead to permanent aching and numbness. This is known as a repetitive strain injury.
Taking regular breaks from these activities can prevent an RSI occurring. If this isn’t possible, there could be ways of improving posture or ergonomics to reduce the risk of injury such as making sure your computer keyboard is level with your elbows when you type.
Loud noise exposure
Some work environments such as construction sites and music venues can be very noisy. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can result in hearing loss, which can often be irreversible.
Your employer may be legally entitled to provide ear protection in such environments. Always make sure that you’re wearing this ear protection as this could reduce the risk of hearing damage. If you’ve noticed that your hearing is already damaged, you may want to look into hearing aids.
Using dirty equipment
Equipment that isn’t cleaned regularly can become a breeding ground for germs and viruses. This could include POS displays and computer keyboards. Exposure to this dirty equipment could increase the risk of catching colds and flus.
Employees may sometimes be given the duty of cleaning this equipment, so make sure that you are regularly cleaning it.