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Unhealthy workplaces costing UK business more than £7 billion a year

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Badly set up or poorly equipped workstations result in one in five office workers missing almost three weeks of work a year from health problems such as backache (40 percent), tense shoulders (37 percent), eye problems (30 percent) and even depression (17 percent).

Creating a comfortable, healthy and productive environment for employees is not a big investment and can positively affect firms’ bottom lines although half of office workers report that they’ve not had workstation risk assessment in the last 12 months despite it being a legal requirement. In addition to the lack of risk assessments in the workspace, a further 40 percent of employees do not have access to ergonomic accessories which can help to relieve or avoid poor posture and discomfort. The research found that almost half of those questioned said health problems caused in the workplace were having a negative impact on their personal lives too, with 16 per cent saying it damaged relationships and one in five suffering lasting depression as a result.

Employees’ well-being is compromised further with a quarter of people have seen their personal interests and activities suffer with 14 percent having taken time off sporting activities, 11 percent giving up the sport altogether and another 11 percent giving up interests and hobbies such as gardening. General practitioner and health broadcaster, Dr Sarah Jarvis, comments: “The impact of the working environment on office workers’ health is all too often overlooked by businesses. “What is very clear from the research is that the way you work and the equipment you use has a major impact, not just on your workplace health, but on your wider health too. “On a daily basis I see many patients suffering particularly from back pain, and I ask routinely about workplace set-up because I know the consequences of poor posture and spending long periods sitting in the wrong position.”

Louise Shipley, from Fellowes, comments: “Most of us spend a great deal of time at our desks so we need to think harder about the conditions we’re working in – and invest in protecting our health and ultimately, our quality of life. “Employers have a responsibility to their employees and that includes making sure they can work safely and productively. “Investing in the right kind of supportive, ergonomic accessories and workspace assessments should be a part of that process to ensure they have a more engaged and healthy workforce.”

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