Reboot Your Work Health

Posted on: January 9th, 2012 by Thamar Houliston
Work hygiene

When you think of high-risk occupations, it’s usually fire-fighters, crane operators and bomb defusers that come to mind. But even seemingly innocuous work environments (home offices included!) can pose a health threat. “Most of us are swept up in day-to-day minutiae, so you may not even realise the toll – both physical and psychological – your job may be taking on you,” says Dr Bryan Robinson, author of Chained To The Desk. Here, what you need to know to stay strong…


  1. Get In Position
  2. Outsmart Stress
  3. Wipe Out Germs

Get In Position

stand-at-workWomen who park it for more than six hours a day are 37 percent more likely to die – from any cause – than those who sit for fewer than three, regardless of how much gym time they clock. And if your job requires you to be on your feet all day, that isn’t much better. Studies have linked prolonged standing to lower back and foot pain, as well as pregnancy complications.

If you stand while working…
Supportive shoes are a must. According to Cape Town-based podiatrist Sean Pincus, "anyone who works in an environment that demands standing and walking should see a podiatrist regularly, just like you’d need to see an optometrist if you stare at the computer screen all day." Comfortable, well-fitting footwear and a firm heel counter (the back piece of your shoe that supports your foot) are essential to avoid foot, leg and lower-back fatigue. Can't bear to ditch your Havaianas? Stand on an eco-friendly Jade Yoga Mat for additional cushioning (R535, www.jadeyoga.co.za) and avoid using a footstool, which can cause lower-back and knee pain, adds Pincus.

If you sit at your job…
"Sitting all day and remaining in one position for an extended period of time can have serious consequences for your body and work performance," says Jessica Hutching, managing member of Human Factors-Ergonomics Consulting. Ensuring that your chair is ergonomically sound is vital, she says. Invest in a Dat-O Chair (from R3900, www.dauphin.co.za), the first chair to be certified by the Ergonomics Society of South Africa. According to a study by Stellenbosch University's Division of Physiotherapy, the chair had a positive effect on all symptoms related to bad seating position. It adjusts to suit your posture based on your body measurements and the design of your workplace.

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