For many, working everyday has become a way of life, most of us aim to progress through the business into more important and often higher paid roles. Working from home or taking on extra work outside of hours is very often a reality if we wish to succeed in our career. However do we realise that the health repercussions that could occur as a result?
Firstly let me say that whilst in a company working environment they have a legal requirement to ensure your safety and that failure to do so will deem them to have been negligent and therefore liable to payout compensation to the employees that they have failed to protect from injury and illness. These regulations also apply to those who have been asked to work from home.
A company is responsible for the welfare of every employee even those who are working from home and should ensure that a correct working environment is set up. This however does not apply to those who choose to undertake work outside of paid working hours and in here lies the problem.
Those who regularly take their work home will probably work in an office environment and as such will use personal computers and laptops to assist them with their duties. When using a computer for extended periods of time we must be aware of the potential dangers and once aware, action should be taken to prevent them.
Repetitive Strain Injuries
In short a repetitive strain injury is an inflammation of the muscles/ tendons around the affected area. It is caused by repeatedly performing a motion hundreds of times each day. For instance a professional typist can make up to a quarter of a million keystrokes during the average shift and taking extra work home could significantly increase this amount.
An RSI may at first start out as a niggling pain but if ignored will quickly transform into a chronic condition that will severely affect/ restrict your everyday life. In extreme cases invasive surgery is required to fix the issue which could result in the need for recovery periods of time off work.
Preventing an RSI is relatively simple and is often a case of ensuring that your workplace is set up appropriately. Your keyboard and mouse should be approximately 6 inches away from the edge of your desk and your wrists should be kept in a neutral position. If you find yourself bending your wrists when making use of your mouse/ keyboard it may be in your best interest to find an ergonomic rest to assist yourself when typing.
A suitable workstation can also assist in the prevention of other office related injuries;
1) When seated make sure that your feet are flat on the ground and your upper legs are parallel to the ground this will reduce the strain on the back of the legs.
2) It is best to have a monitor with an adjustable stand, you should be seated so that you are looking down at no more than a 20 degree angle to prevent any strain on your neck.
3) If you find yourself feeling tired or are developing soreness in your eyes it may be a wise idea to turn the contrast down on your screen or find a way of reducing glare. Eye strain although not recognised as a serious health issue can quickly affect your ability to work at 100%
As anyone knows work can be a stressful place, so why would we take it upon ourselves to take it home with us? Stress is responsible for a variety of health issues that differ in severity. At first though, whose who are under vast amounts of stress may find it difficult to sleep and eating patterns may become erratic. These issue will quickly progress into severe conditions including full blown insomnia and even heart failure.
So how is it possible to take on extra work without getting overly stressed, quite simply you need to be able to monitor/ judge when an issue is arising. Make sure that you take time each day to yourself, this could be as simple as enjoying your favourite television programme each night. Give your mind time to relax and take a regular break. It is common for people working at home not to take breaks, don’t fall into this pattern.