Home Business Services Poor ergonomics causing ailments for almost half of office workers

Poor ergonomics causing ailments for almost half of office workers

Poor office set-ups have negatively affected the physical health of almost half of workers in the UK, new research suggests.

A recent survey by office ergonomics and power supplier CMD found that 47.7% of office workers have suffered some kind of physical affliction due to their office set-up. The most common ailment was backache, experienced by 18.99% of voters. Workers are also having regular migraines and headaches—one in 10 workers in the CMD survey indicated they have been affected by one of these at some point.

According to research by Vitality Health, British employees lost an average 35.6 days of productive time in 2018 due to time off sick or ‘presenteeism’—being present at work but under-performing because of health problems. An earlier study from 2017 indicates this loss of productivity costs the UK economy £77.5 billion a year.

Jonathan Griffin, marketing co-ordinator at CMD, said: “Sick staff reportedly cost British firms billions of pounds each year, be that through sick pay or presenteeism. It is likely that some of these health complaints will have manifested within the workplace through poor ergonomics.

“Even when employers have taken the step to invest in ergonomics, their efforts can be wasted if they fail to show staff how to adjust furniture and fittings to optimise their workstation for their own requirements.”

The survey shows that 25-34-year-olds suffer the most with backache, headaches and eyestrain. Neckache was the biggest issue for 35-44-year-olds, whereas repetitive strain injury (RSI) or carpal tunnel syndrome was the main concern for those in the 45-54 age bracket.

Posture-related conditions such as back or neckache were more common among male respondents, while women complained more of headaches or eyestrain.

Older workers were significantly less affected by workplace ailments than their younger counterparts, with only 35% of over-65s indicating any health issues due to their office set-up. This is compared with 59% of 25-35-year-olds.

It may be that older employees are more aware of their physical needs at work and take the time to alter their workstation to suit their individual requirements.

Hot-desking, a popular working practice among young employees where desks are not allocated to specific workers but rather available on a first come, first served basis, may also be contributing to ill-health in the workplace.

Jonathan concluded: “Hot-desking and flexible working can play a big part in employees developing aches and strains as they are less likely to take the time to optimise their workspace if they are using it on a temporary basis.

“There is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ seating arrangement. Employees of different heights, weights and sizes will all naturally require a different working set-up, and as our survey results show, taking a few moments to make small adjustments could make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of employees.”