Jul 25, 2014
Prolonged hours of standing have long been an issue in the workplace. This method or system, most commonly practiced in factory settings, boomed during the Industrial Revolution. Factories have long required their workers to stand for faster production. In the United Kingdom, this practice had caused severe health problems to workers during the World War I. This sparked lobbyists to push for more seats for jobs that can be conducted while sitting.
Who Are Most Affected?
This problem is most common for assembly line workers, retail store employees, waiting staff, teachers, security workers, healthcare practitioners, flight attendants, and others. Most of the affected employees work in lower-paying jobs. In the UK alone, more than 11 million UK workers are at risk of illnesses caused by prolonged standing.
What are the Health Implications?
Standing for too long primarily impacts lower limbs, muscles, and blood vessels. It puts tremendous pressure on hip, knee, and ankle joints that may cause chronic injury. This pressure may cause feet deformations like flat feet and heel spurs. Patients also experience more severe back pain than those who do not experience prolonged standing.
Those who are affected often complain of symptoms such as swelling feet, aching muscles, tiredness, and discomfort. They may even develop varicose and spider veins. These conditions are caused by weakened blood vessels due to too much pressure. Weakened blood vessels can’t pump blood back up to the heart so blood stays in the vessels, causing them to twist and swell.
Unsightly veins can be a huge problem especially for women since they are the ones most affected by it. The increasing number of patients led to an increase in the clinics offering treatments. One such clinic is Soffer Health Institute which offers spider vein treatment in Miami. Another clinic performs sclerotherapy, the best spider vein treatment in Trenton.
But perhaps the most serious health effect of standing too long is the worsening of a pre-existing coronary heart disease.
What is the Solution?
Contrary to popular belief, constant sitting is not the answer to this problem. In fact, studies have shown that prolonged sitting in an office negatively affects health, too. The safest solution, therefore, is to avoid staying in one working position throughout the shift. Instead, workers should stand, sit, move around, and even lie down once in a while. Tasks should be altered and be more varied to avoid other musculoskeletal problems (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome).
Working desks should also be adjustable in height so that workers can change postures and relax their body a bit if they feel muscle tensions. Chairs should also be adjustable, movable, and comfortable. Employers should also provide more flexible and timely rest breaks.
Providing these options for employees are the latter’s right and not a privilege. Unions can push for these reforms, and if the employers do not comply, they can take it to court. Every country has a specific law with provisions for workplace hazards. In the United States, rights of employees are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.