Hidden Ways Your Job Could Be Harming Your Health



Not all workplace dangers are obvious. Some can cause more gradual, long-term damage rather than causing immediate injury. Guarding yourself against these hidden health hazards could be just as important as guarding yourself against more obvious dangers. Here are just a few hidden health dangers to look out for in the workplace.

Stress
Stress is often said to be the biggest killer. This is because it can increase the risk of fatal conditions like cancer and heart disease. It’s also linked to non-fatal but still serious conditions like hypertension, IBS and migraines.

Almost all jobs have their brief moments of stress. The danger arises when a job causes chronic stress – this put a greater toll on the body, increasing blood pressure for longer periods and preventing the mind and muscles from relaxing. Chronic stress can also affect your mental health, bringing on feelings of anxiety and depression.

You may be able to beat stress by engaging in destressing activities. This could include listening to music, taking a hot bath, meditating or exercising. You should also give yourself enough breaks from work – be careful of working too many hours and allow yourself holidays.

On top of this you should consider the things that are triggering stress, whether it’s having to meet deadlines or deal with difficult colleagues. There may be ways of relieving responsibility or diffusing tensions with people in order to reduce stress. If this isn’t possible and the stress is getting you down, your best option may be to quit your job and find something less strenuous.

Sitting down too long

Sitting down all day behind a desk or behind a steering wheel could also be causing damage to your health. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain, which can lead to a myriad of health problems on its own from diabetes to arthritis. Physical inactivity is also not good for your heart and could increase the risk of heart disease or a stroke.

Making an effort to be more active is the simple solution to this health danger – although this can be easier said than done. Whilst you may be able to get up from your desk every few minutes to walk around, you may not be able to do this with a driving job. In such cases, doing more exercise out of work hours could help you to keep your health in check.

Poor posture
It’s important to consider your posture when performing certain tasks – specifically repetitive ones. Poor posture often leads to RSIs (repetitive strain injuries), caused by positioning the body in a way that isn’t comfortable for too long a period of time.

Employers are more often being encouraged to promote good posture in the workplace. This could include crouching instead of bending when picking up a heavy object (this can reduce the risk of long-term back injuries).

In other cases, correct posture may be something you need to learn yourself. For instance, when typing on a keyboard, you can often avoid wrist issues by having your elbows horizontal to the keyboard. Meanwhile, having the monitor directly in front of you can prevent strain to your neck. You can learn more posture tips at sites like Posturite.


Noise exposure
Exposure to loud noise over a sustained period can lead to hearing loss. Work environments where this is the case may include factories, construction sites, airports and nightclubs.

Employers are now required by law in many places around the world to provide earplugs, which can muffle the sound and prevent damage to the ears. However, whilst employers may be legally required to supply earplugs, it may not be mandatory for employees to wear them. If this is the case in your workplace, make sure that you are wearing them – earplugs may not be cool, but they could save your hearing.

Poor lighting
Working in insufficient light can cause eye strain. This could include working on a computer with too dim a screen, or trying to do detailed craft work in low lighting. Whilst there is nothing to suggest that low lighting can cause permanent eye damage, it could cause temporary discomfort and lead to headaches.

Light that is too bright can also be harmful. Such light could in fact cause more permanent damage to the eye – certain equipment such as lasers should only be operated with safety glasses as a result.

Poor air quality
A lot of health problems can also be caused by poor air quality. These tend to be largely respiratory problems. Too much dust has been linked to asthma, whilst substances such as mold and asbestos in the air can lead to more serious conditions like legionnaires and mesothelioma.

A good workplace should be well ventilated to keep the air clean from any dust or pollutants. Air conditioning units meanwhile should be regularly serviced to prevent build-ups of dust and mold. There may also be jobs in which you may be legally entitled to be supplied with a mask. This could prevent you breathing in harmful chemicals.

You should look into your rights to ensure that an employer is putting in place these health and safety measures. Certain respiratory problems like mesothelioma may not develop until years after exposure. Solicitors such as The NBA Law Firm may be able to help you gain compensation if you have fallen ill as a result of breathing in such a substance. This could help you to get the medical help you need.

Using unclean equipment
Unclean equipment could also be harming your health. Unhealthy amounts of bacteria on keyboards or hard hats that have not been cleaned could lead to you getting ill. It could even lead to skin conditions (unclean hard hats have been known to lead to scalp psoriasis).

Keeping equipment clean may be the responsibility of your employer, although in most cases it is the responsibility of the employees. Make sure that you are keeping a cleaning regime if it is your responsibility.
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