An information sheet from the European Agency from Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) outlines current health recommendations in the context of being more active at work in order to help prevent health problems such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and heart disease linked to sedentary work, and improve performance.
It presents examples of successful workplace programmes and resources for workplace discussions, and links to further information and ideas. By working together, it says, employers and workers can find practical ways to promote more active ways of working.
The information sheet points out that maintaining the same posture places higher loads on the muscles and tendons than changing postures. Anyone with a chronic musculoskeletal condition should not sit for too long and avoiding static postures is part of making work sustainable.
When sitting, an upright posture places less strain on the spinal discs, but it is not good to maintain this posture for an extended period. ‘Dynamic sitting’, where sitting postures are continuously altered, is preferable.
It is also suggested that being more active while working may also improve job performance and enhance job satisfaction.
Employers can consider:
Making it possible for workers to alternate between sitting, standing and moving around; motivate workers to take breaks, move and stretch.
Setting maximum sitting times and times for stretching and moving.
Introducing stretching into meetings and encourage workers to get up and move, and stretch if needed, during meetings.
Considering whether meeting rooms and cafeterias could have a standing area.
Providing sit-stand desks.
Providing good seating that allows posture change.
Putting some simple equipment in the restroom – Pilates ball, mat, etc.
Providing cordless phones so that workers can walk and talk.
Removing printers from individual offices and move bins to a central location.
Providing computer apps that give break and stretching reminders.
Suggestions for workers in order to increase activity at work include:
Going to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing or phoning.
Standing up or walking for short meetings.
Taking the stairs – start by getting out of the lift one floor early.
Parking the car a distance from the office entrance.
Using a 'screen breaks' or 'timer' app on your mobile as a reminder.
Drinking water – it enhances blood flow and means you will walk to the toilet more.
Taking a short lunchtime walk.
Advice is also set out in relation to dynamic sitting, workstation stretches, and tips for driving.
The information sheet can be found here.
EU-OSHA June 2021