'Chair disease' ups injury and illness risk in office
Melbourne: Workers who compensate for spending hours in front of a computer screen by using ergonomic chairs, standing desks and good posture are still likely to suffer from back, neck, wrist and shoulder injuries, along with increasing their risk of suffering from heart disease, obesity and diabetes, doctors have warned.
According to new research from the University of Sydney has found, the increase in use of computers has almost negated the benefits of improved workstation design and posture.
“Workstation design has come a long way since the ‘80s and they are good changes,” the Age quoted Karin Griffiths, lead author of the study, as saying.
“But what I also found was the proportion of people reporting symptoms has not changed much despite this … [and] is not enough to keep up with health issues that arise from paperless, IT-dominated offices,” Griffiths said.
The survey of nearly 1000 workers across six government departments found that about 85 percent of people who spent more than eight hours a day working at a computer experienced neck pain.
The study also found that three-quarters of participants reported shoulder pain and 70 percent reported lower back pain.
“``I know the amount of money organisations are putting into improved workstations and ergonomics, and it’s not that those changes aren’t important,” Griffiths said.
“``The problem is nearly everything can be done at the desk now - communication, library research, file retrieval, even meetings. It doesn’t matter how good the chair is, it is not going to address the health problem of what some researchers are calling ‘chair disease’,” she said.
She concluded that long hours of computer work may also contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, with people in senior or managerial positions hit the hardest because they worked at a computer most.
The study has been published in Work.