When we take up employment, many of us are aware of traditional risks to our safety—lifting heavy objects, working from a height, and handling sharp objects, to name a few. Of course, these safety concerns are important, but there are several other health and safety worries that are just as vital but far less noticeable. There are at least four preventable conditions that your online work can cause.
The following will explore a few environmental, health, and safety concerns that apply to those who are working from home. Of course, every job is a little bit different, but this article will focus on remote work done using a computer, laptop, or tablet.
After the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, any jobs that could be done from home were shifted to allow employees to work virtually and reduce the risk of spreading the virus. When asked about the change, more than half of employees said they would like to continue working from home. In particular, those with very small children prefer the flexibility of remote work because it allows them to give their children more time and attention. Government bodies and businesses across the world are expecting working from home to continue for many industries even after the vaccine is rolled out worldwide. Because of this, understanding environmental concerns as well as health and safety while working from home has never been more important.
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are sometimes also called repetitive stress injuries. These injuries result from gradual damage to muscles, nerves, or tendons due to repetitive motions. Some of the more common causes of repetitive strain injuries include:
Those of us who work from a computer need to be especially aware of repetitive strain injuries as typing and using a mouse are both commonly part of our work. Look out for symptoms such as sensitivity to cold and heat, weakness, pain, tenderness, throbbing, swelling, stiffness, tingling, or numbness in specific areas of the body, including wrists, hands, neck, shoulders, forearms, and elbows.
To prevent RSI, make sure that the objects you’re working with are placed at a comfortable height and distance from your body to minimize the strain put on your muscles. If you’re not sitting up straight, with good posture, and feeling comfortable, there’s a chance your screen, table height, or other tools are not placed at the right distance. This is one of the key preventable conditions that your online work can cause.
Studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time has been linked to various health concerns. These health conditions included increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and some types of cancer. Many of us who work online are sitting for five to ten hours each working day.
These same studies suggest that you find little ways to keep yourself moving during your work. Try to take a break from sitting every 30 minutes to stretch a little and consider standing while talking on the phone or having meetings.
Many people who sit at a computer all day develop poor posture habits. These bad habits can result in back and spinal injuries or problems. If you’re going to be sitting for a large portion of your day because you’re working at a computer, you need to pay attention to your posture and how you sit. You might want to look into a chair that offers great support. You should also ensure that your feet are flat on the floor and your screen is at eye-level to reduce the risk of long-term damage done by sitting incorrectly.
Believe it or not, the human eye didn’t evolve to look at screens. Most screened devices emit blue light, which wreaks havoc on our sleep, endocrine system, and circadian rhythms. It can also affect our eyes and eyesight. Large amounts of light can increase your risk of eye disease. A condition called computer vision syndrome affects nearly 50% of computer users and results in dry and irritated eyes and, sometimes, blurred vision.
You can mitigate this risk by using blue light filtering glasses or blue-light blocking screen filters. Studies have shown this is especially important in the later evening when the sun is down. Another option is to wear your contact lens for screen protection, you can get it from www.contactlenses.co.uk.
The above information about preventable conditions that your online work can cause should help you minimize the chances of damage being done to your body when working remotely or online. If you notice any symptoms or feel unexplained pain, visit a healthcare professional. Early intervention can mean the difference between lifelong pain and manageable conditions. COVID has caused many serious problems in the workforce and until a vaccine has been rolled out that helps us collectively achieve herd immunity, there will be ongoing challenges.