When you think of dangerous places to work, the office may not make it to the top of your list. After all, construction sites or being part of a police or fire team are surely much more dangerous. However, an office can actually be a dangerous place to work because, in some situations, it can make you really sick.
Perhaps you’re now thinking of stress. Stress is a big factor, but that’s more to do with the work itself than the office environment. Here are the reasons your office space might be hazardous to your health.
Did you know that computer keyboards are often found particularly unclean, and can have five times as much bacteria crawling all over them? That’s because a toilet seat (and everywhere else in a bathroom) will be cleaned regularly. A computer keyboard, however, probably won’t. When was the last time you cleaned yours?
Don’t feel too bad though; studies show that only around one in ten of us actually do clean our keyboards and one in five of us keep our computer mouse germ free. If you’re one of the majorities who doesn’t clean these items, it might be worth adding them to your weekly schedule – just turn everything off and wipe it all down with a damp cloth on a Friday before you leave and you’ll have a whole week of cleanliness ahead of you.
Eating At Your Desk
Eating at your desk is another cleanliness issue and something that could also be making you sick. When you eat at your desk, you are sure to leave crumbs behind no matter how careful you are. This could attract unwanted pests and when you’re away from the office and the lights are out. That’s another reason to keep everything clean.
Unless you have a dedicated kitchen with a dishwasher or cleaner, it’s unlikely that you will have perfectly clean mugs to drink from. Having a regular cleaning rota in place can make sure that mugs aren’t forgotten about.
Mold is a serious problem that you might not even know you’ve got, but it can cause big health issues for people working near it including breathing problems, asthma, allergies, immune system issues, and even forms of pneumonia such as Legionnaires’ disease. Mold can easily be hiding within office walls, so if people keep getting sick, the building owner may need to investigate the possibility of the mold being present.
Proper ventilation and a dehumidifier can often be enough to stop mold from growing, and if it does appear clearing it away immediately and regularly cleaning air conditioning units can also help. If the mold is a really big problem, there are commercial companies that specialize in removing it. It might cost a fair amount of money, but when it comes to health that money needs to be spent.
Sitting for long periods of time can cause all kinds of health problems to occur. Some of them are easy to spot such as back problems, but some take longer to develop and are hard to notice at first – these include type 2 diabetes and heart problems. Simply getting up and walking around for five minutes every hour is a good start when it comes to combating these issues, but having an ergonomic desk and chair set up is an even better way to work. Doing some exercise in your evenings or going for a walk at lunchtime can help keep your blood pumping, especially if you are sedentary during the day. Maintaining good posture is also essential for years to come, so you aren’t regretting sitting in a certain position all day.
Ergonomics is the method of keeping people fit, healthy, and comfortable as they sit (or stand) at their desks. It’s the process of putting the keyboard at the right height and distance so that necks and wrists are strained, and of keeping the monitor at the right height to prevent shoulder, neck, and eyesight issues. It’s also about having the right chair at the right height and sitting properly. A chiropractor such as Smith Chiropractic can help to adjust your back if it is in alignment, for example, but in order to stop the problem from reoccurring, a good desk and chair are essential.
Doing stretches, yoga or practicing regular exercise can really help to strengthen your muscles, especially if you find yourself getting uncomfortable during the day. This doesn’t mean you have to go full speed ahead, you could even exercise at home and follow some fitness videos – but making a small lifestyle change can help massively.
If the building you work in is old, then the chances are that some of the material used to build it are toxic. Materials such as asbestos and lead were once used widely, but when they were proven to be toxic, their use was discontinued. However, if they had already been installed in most cases, they were left there.
Most of the time, these toxic building materials don’t cause any problems as long as they are left alone. However, if they are damaged in some way (perhaps by additional building works), or they are able to leach into the water supply, then they could cause serious health issues.
It is possible to get an inspector to check out the building to determine what materials were used and, if toxic materials are spotted, a team of specialists can be hired to remove it all. This can be costly and time-consuming, but for ultimate safety and peace of mind, some employers and building owners do choose to have it done. It is essential to never undertake any of these works yourself as it is only for the experts who really do know what they are doing. Ensuring that your health is a top priority has long-lasting benefits that will ensure you are in tip-top shape for years to come. It may take a little time to implement, but ensuring you have long-term strategies in place is advised.