Is Your Job Damaging Your Health? Golden Rules To Keep Work-Related Illness At Bay
Most of us return from a day at work (or our home office!) feeling tired and ready for a well-earned rest. But if you have aches and pains, you’re anxious, or you’re prone to headaches, there could be underlying issues. Health and Safety Executive figures show that work-related illnesses cost the UK more than 27 million working days a year.
Here are some golden rules from Julio Costa, a work injury attorney, to follow to make sure you stay fit and healthy whatever your occupation.
We all have days when we feel under the weather. In most cases, you can bounce back from a heavy cold or a tummy bug fairly quickly. But what happens when your health is affected by your day job? Here are some of the most common work-related illnesses in the UK.
Back pain is the most common cause of absence at work. It mainly affects people who work at a desk for long periods of time and those who engage in manual labour. Lower back pain is more common than upper back pain, and it tends to result from poor posture. Your posture is the way you hold yourself. If you have good posture, this means that your spine is in the correct position. If your posture isn’t quite right, this increases pressure on the muscles in your back. It can also cause neck and shoulder pain. Back pain can also be caused by lifting heavy objects and standing for long periods of time.
Stress, depression, and anxiety
In the last decade, the number of people taking time off work for stress, depression or anxiety has increased significantly. Stress is the most common of these illnesses. It can occur as a result of pressure at work, deadlines or issues such as disagreements between employees. Stress can also result from external issues, which are then exacerbated at work. You may not be getting any sleep, for example, and this will then affect your ability to do your job properly.
Anxiety is a natural human reaction in certain situations. But if you feel anxious frequently without triggers, this may mean that you suffer from anxiety. Even the most straightforward tasks, such as going to a meeting, can become incredibly difficult. Symptoms of anxiety include experiencing feelings of worry and dread and heart palpitations. Sweating and disturbed sleep patterns are also common signs.
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. The word depressed tends to get thrown around, but it isn’t a subject that should be taken lightly. Depression is a serious illness, which is characterised by prolonged spells of feeling low. When you’re depressed, it can take everything you’ve got just to get out of bed in the morning.
Repetitive strain injuries
Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are caused by completing the same actions and movements over and over again. Examples include carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. Many office workers develop carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of typing all day every day. Signs include swelling, pain, and numbness.
Every employer in the UK is legally required to do their bit to prevent accidents at work. Of course, it’s not possible to prevent every accident or illness. However, regulations should be in place to minimise the risks. Examples of measures include providing safety equipment and carrying out regular risk assessment. There are also steps employees can take to protect their health at work.
Preventing back pain
The key to preventing back pain is to ensure you have good posture. When you’re sitting at your desk, your spine should be straight, and you shouldn’t have to reach for the keyboard. Your computer screen should be in line with your eyes, and your shoulders relaxed. If you have an adjustable chair, make sure it’s in a suitable position. Some people also find it beneficial to switch between a traditional desk and a standing table. Standing up exerts a lot less pressure on your back than sitting down. If you lift as part of your job, make sure you use equipment to prevent injury. If something is heavy, use a trolley. If you’re lifting lighter items, keep your back straight and your knees slightly bent. Use the muscles in your legs to push upwards.
Preventing mental health disorders
There are lots of possible causes of stress, anxiety, and depression, and most are not related to work. However, sometimes your job can be the main trigger. If you feel under pressure all the time, or you’ve got too much to do, speak to your boss. It’s better to act before things get worse. Likewise, if you’ve got depression, your employer should be made aware. They can take steps to help you, such as offering you time off if you need it. Employers may also take steps to promote wellbeing in the working environment. This may include providing remedies such as exercise classes, meditation, or massage therapy.
The only real remedy for RSI is rest. If you start to experience symptoms, see a doctor and notify your employer. Take regular breaks when you’re typing to give your muscles a rest. You could also use software like voice typing or use a touchscreen monitor, to save your wrists.
Preventing work accidents
Work accidents can cause all kinds of injuries from broken bones to life-threatening spinal injuries. Slips, trips, and falls are the most common type of work accident. Employers should ensure that any hazards are taken care of, and employees should take care to look where they are going. If you see an obstacle, such as a broken floorboard, report it. Wear suitable footwear, and always use the safety equipment that is provided. If you work in construction, you should use equipment such as helmets, gloves, and ear defenders. This will reduce the risk of injuries like vibration white finger and hearing loss.
With any illness, it’s always best to seek advice as soon as you start to notice symptoms. If you leave them untreated, they’re likely to get worse. There are often things you can do to try and ease early warning signs, and the condition may be easier to treat in the preliminary stages. If you are suffering, it’s important to keep your employer in the loop. Your doctor may prescribe you medication or suggest another form of treatment. But there may also be changes you can make at work, which you employer can help out with.
What can I do if I’ve had an accident at work?
Sometimes, accidents are inevitable, or you sustain injuries through your own fault. However, in some cases, accidents can be prevented. If you’ve been injured at work, and you weren’t to blame, you may be thinking about claiming compensation. Compensation is a financial sum, which is granted to workers who have suffered ill health as a result of their employer’s negligence. Have you tripped over a damaged carpet, which had already been reported several times? Did you slip on a wet floor, which wasn’t marked? Were you provided with unsuitable or faulty safety equipment? If so, it’s likely that your injuries could have been prevented if your employer adhered to guidelines. In this case, you should be able to make a successful claim for work injury compensation.
If you’ve been injured in the last three years, and you have evidence to show that you were not at fault, consider seeking legal advice. Firms like UK Claim Lawyers have experience in helping injured employees to make a claim. If your case is approved, you could use the money to cover lost earnings or medical bills. The amount of compensation you receive will vary according to the severity of your injuries and the impact of the accident. If you’ve been forced to give up work, for example, you’ll be awarded more than somebody who had to take a week off.
It is possible to file a claim without legal help, but the process is convoluted. At a time when you’re already feeling stressed, the last thing you want is to be tackling pages of legal documents full of jargon. If you use a claims company, they can take over the leg work for you.
Are you always tired? Do you feel stressed or anxious on a regular basis? Have you got aches and pains? If so, your job could be damaging your health. If you’re having troubles, don’t suffer in silence. See a doctor, and get your injuries and ailments assessed. Follow guidelines to try and stay fit and healthy at work, and keep your employer updated with your health status.
Remember, back pain is the most common type of work-related illness. Try to make sure that your workstation is set up properly, and you maintain good posture. If you’re slouching, this puts enormous pressure on your spine and your back muscles. Sometimes, accidents are inevitable. But if you’ve been injured through no fault of your own, you have a right to claim compensation if you wish to pursue this route. If you can prove that your employer was negligent, your claim should be approved.
Author: Sam Charles
Meet Sam, the creator behind UK lifestyle blog, Strawberry Squeeze 🍓 Sam is a newlywed living in Cornwall studying her PgDip in Strategic Direction and Leadership with the Chartered Management Institute 🍕🐰 She's also the Founder + Director of multi-award-winning SEO & PPC agency, Float Digital ✨