How your workplace can affect your health

The environment in which people work can have a considerable impact on their health. When you consider that most people spend on average 160 hours a month at work, it is worth ensuring that their health does not suffer because of a poor work environment.

natureair.co.uk ImageThere are a number of factors in the workplace that could have a negative impact. For example, if the office is centrally heated or lacks good ventilation, this leads topeople breathing in poor-quality air, and the chances of spreading infections are also increased. Sick Building syndrome is a recognised condition and describes a building that has a negative effect on those who live or work in it. It has been shown that some buildings can cause health issues, eventhough there is no specific cause or identifiable illness linked to them.

Bad or insufficient lighting can lead to eye strain and/or headaches, with theconsequent loss of production. There are regulations regarding the type and level of lighting required for those who work on computers.

If an employee or service provider in the workplace has any drug or alcohol dependency, this could impact not only on that person but also on those with whom they work or to whom they supply a service. Someone who is often high or drunk will not be able to perform their job well, is in danger of harming themselves and/or others, and would be absent from work a lot of the time. This in turn places a strain on the other workers as they would have to take up the slack. If the job involves dealing with the public, this could also lead to a loss of business. An oral fluid lab test can be used to quickly identify whether anyone in the workplace has a drug or alcohol problem.

The arrangement of the work area, the colours used in the décor, and the type of seating available can also make for an uncomfortable working environment, often resulting in physical strain and stress. For example, excessive noise is undesirable and counterproductive, so workplaces should be arranged in such a way as to reduce the noise level from other parts of the building. Seating should be ergonomic if possible, and the colours restful and light.

Two other issues that go hand in hand are workload and working hours. Work-life balance is very important. The level of productivity expected from a worker should be a reasonable amount for the number of hours they work. Too much work over too many hours can easily lead to stress with all its resultant problems such as heart disease and depression.

The emotional damage created by workplace bullying can drastically reduce a worker’s productivity, as well as creating additional mental health problems.

These are some of the issues that should be addressed when evaluating the workplace and its impact on the health of those who work there. Happy, healthy staff produce high-quality work and are much more productive.

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