Health Issues Related to Work

Indian Health Organization , 

A good number of people suffer from health issues that are caused or aggravated by their work or workplace related conditions. Different jobs have different profiles and many of them put people through various health problems that are generally ignored until they become significant. This article talks about such health issues associated with different types of jobs – be it outdoor or indoor – and how to tackle them by bringing about certain changes in their lifestyles and work schedules to minimise the impact and keep healthy.

Nowadays many people suffer from health issues that are caused or aggravated by their work conditions. Not only the 9-to-5 desk jobs, but any job can be taxing in terms of hampering your health. More than 50 per cent of the workforce in India is going through health issues caused by the nature of their work – be it indoor or outdoor. It is essential for such people to introduce certain changes to their lifestyles so that they can minimise their work-related health issues and keep healthy. Some common work-related health issues and ways to avoid them include:

1. Stress: Stress at work can affect mental, physical and emotional health and cause headaches, sleep problems, poor concentration or memory, depression or anxiety, negativity or mood swings. They impact personal life also. To prevent it, try to remove the stress factors from your workplace. Ideal ways to tackle these stress factors would include- planning the day well, managing your surroundings, and being physically active. Start your day with noting down tasks and prioritising them for the day. De-clutter your surroundings and try to make your work station interesting. Allow yourself some personal time by reading a book of your choice or listening to songs on earphones or taking walk in small breaks of 5-10 minutes.

2. Back pain: Back pain is a leading problem for both sedentary office goers and people who lift heavy objects. It is often caused by bad posture while sitting or standing, bending or twisting awkwardly, heavy or repeated lifting incorrectly. If your job involves sitting for long periods at one place, take small 2-minute break at regular intervals and walks to give rest to your back. Stretching and yoga exercises like triceps stretches, torso stretch and hamstring stretch can also help.

3. Eye strain or injury: Majority of people who work on computers suffer from eyestrain, headaches, dry eye and double vision or blurred vision. To prevent it, cut the glare on your screen and position it about 50 to 70cm (20 to 28 inches) away from your face. If your job involves potential danger to your eyes, make sure you wear appropriate safety goggles or other eye protection like anti-glare spectacles. You should also take your eyes off the screen at regular interval and do 2minute eye exercise to keep them fresh.  

4. Breathing problems: You may be at risk of asthma, lung cancer or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) if you are exposed to dust, fibers, chemicals, pesticides, fumes or gases. High risk jobs, including construction, welding, foundry or quarry work, agricultural work, vehicle work and bakery work expose you to such problems. To prevent them, follow all precautionary measures, such as keeping your workplace clean, ensuring you are in smoke-free zone, wearing masks, if necessary. Make sure your workplace is well ventilated. If you smoke, quit, to reduce the risk of damage to your lungs. Prefer using stairs in place of lifts to strengthen respiratory system.

5. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI): Jobs that involve repetitive movements with your hands, from typing to hammering, can put you at risk of Repetitive Strain Injury or RSI. To help prevent injury, take regular breaks and maintain good posture. Changing the position of your screen or workbench will also help. You can also take hot compress or cold compress before you sleep.

6. Hearing loss: People who have prolonged and repeated exposure to harmful noise levels at work like factory workers, traffic police are at risk of hearing loss. This condition can also be caused by listening to music at unsafe sound levels with your ear buds. To prevent it, wear sound cancelling earplugs or headsets if you’re exposed to noise over 80 decibels.

7. Headaches: Headaches are one of the most common work related ailments. To prevent prolonged headaches, stay hydrated and eat regularly. Seek medical advice if you get migraines, to help identify your triggers and get appropriate treatment. Listening to soothing music of your interest in small breaks can also heal you counter this issue.  

8. Skin problems: Jobs associated with potential skin damage include hairdressing, catering, health services, construction, and motor repair. In these jobs, skin injuries can range from burns, chemical and toxic exposure, allergies, cuts and abrasions. To prevent it, avoid harmful work materials and try to use safer alternatives. Cover and protect your skin, especially your face and hands. Use sunscreen and cover-up with long sleeves and hats if you have an outdoor job. Wear masks and disposable gloves to protect damage.