5 Key Health Issues in the Workplace

Some health issues are extremely common in most workplaces. Though some health concerns, such as explosions or exposure to toxic chemicals are limited to very specific occupations, there are five main health concerns that almost every professional is faced with. From communicable diseases to mental health, here are five common health concerns and how to prevent or avoid them.

1. Ergonomic injury that leads to chronic pain

Ergonomic injuries occur when an employee lifts something that is too heavy, repeats a motion for an extended period of time, or sits stationary for too long. These injuries can often lead to chronic conditions like back pain and pain caused by poor posture or strains. Employers can avoid injuries like these by encouraging and demonstrating proper posture at a desk, providing breaks in which employees can move around or rest from heavy lifting, and demonstrating the proper way to lift heavy objects.

2. Communicable diseases

From the flu to a stomach bug, communicable diseases can be the worst for every industry. Those who don’t choose to stay home often come to work and spread germs and disease to other employees. Though typically a seasonal flu or cold isn’t particularly dangerous, they can become worrisome in people who may have immune deficiencies. Employers can help prevent communicable diseases by encouraging the use of sick days and providing resources such as an on-site clinic and health insurance. Employees who are running a fever or feel ill should opt to stay at home.

3. Mental health risks such as depression and stress

Believe it or not, exhaustion and stress can lead to illness similar to that of a cold or flu. Mental health is an often overlooked risk for employers, but they can alleviate the risk by offering employees resources such as contact numbers for clinics and mental health professionals. Likewise, creating a professional, safe environment can help prevent stress and depression. Employees who feel depressed or sad should reach out to a professional or even talk to their employers about the way they’re feeling, especially if it’s in direct relation to the workplace.

4. Accidents during commute

Though employers can’t control traffic and crazy drivers, they can enforce working hours conducive to employees getting enough sleep and discourage the use of cellphones while driving. Accidents during an employee’s commute can lead to serious injury or fatality, even more so in employees who are overworked, sleep deprived or busy taking employer calls on the road. Employers should encourage safe driving behaviours, a healthy sleep routine and predictable work hours to reduce the risk of accidents on the road. Employers who allow employees with children a more flexible schedule may also see reduced risk of accidents.

5. Falling

Though not as common as the first four, falling is a serious risk, especially if employees are older. More common in manufacturing and shipping and a little less likely in an office setting, falling can lead to broken bones and sprains--or worse. Employers in service and shipping industries should always ensure that employees know and practice safety regulations and keep walking spaces clear. In the office, employers should ensure that any steps or steep declines in the floor are clearly marked and that hallways and walkways are kept clear. This is especially true for businesses that may have disabled workers or customers.

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