Globally, work-related deaths average 2.5 million a year, according to statistics by the International Labor Organization. The figure includes high-risk occupations in the security services, law enforcement, and industrial sectors. Including white-collar workers in the headcount, on the other hand, may seem too far-fetched. Or is it?
Studies have shown that people working 9 to 5 office jobs are at the same level of risk as those working in hazardous environments. In an article published in Safety and Health Magazine, there is compelling evidence that links higher-paying white collar jobs to death and serious medical conditions such as “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease”. These findings were made by an extensive study on occupational mortality by the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance system, which also recorded 27,000 deaths from ALS and 115,000 from Parkinson’s.
That back pain you’re feeling from hours upon hours of sitting down is anything but trivial. You could be developing diseases that can lead to disability. Moreover, back pain can also be A symptom of even more serious conditions you might not want to ignore. A study by the University of Australia, for one, has found that people suffering from back and neck pain “had a 13 percent higher risk of death from any cause each year compared with those who did not report back or neck pain”.
It seems intimidating that the simple act of sitting down could lead to your body breaking down, so how are modern offices dealing with such a serious problem?
Optimizing the office for safety
Spine injuries have always been a critical issue facing modern-day companies. In a bid to protect their employees’ physical health, these companies are investing in ergonomic office equipment such as computers, keyboards, and even pantry utensils. When it comes to protecting the spine from the risk of injury, office chairs should be swapped with something that’s far less restrictive.
According to a Vogue article, sitting on office chairs extensively for at least six hours not only causes spinal injury but can also lead to cancer and cardiovascular diseases. This could mean that even if you find the most comfortable chair on the market, you’re still vulnerable to the same risks while assuming a sedentary position. At any rate, the best way you can shield yourself from back pain is to simply take a rest and get help.
Retreating from work
If you feel your back is aching or there is a slight discomfort originating from your neck, stand up and walk around for a bit. You can also try morning stretches that are specially made to make your back immune to straining. Japanese society practices radio taiso which is a series of early morning exercises meant to reduce workplace injuries.
For more advanced cases, you might want to see a physical therapist who can help relieve chronic pain and prevent the development of more serious conditions. This would preempt any need for spinal surgery, depending on how severe your case may be.
At any rate, being vigilant about your routines at work is your greatest weapon in terms of reducing fatal spinal injuries.