Shedworkers and other people who work from home are more likely to suffer from work-related injuries such as neck and back problems, according to research from Bupa.
Its study indicates that slightly more than half of homeworkers have sustained injuries, aches and pains as a result of their working environment and are 10 per cent more likely to do so than those working in a ‘traditional’ workplace.
The research highlighted that not having the right work set-up at home is one cause - one in four homeworkers do not have a dedicated workspace at home (not something shedworkers need to worry about of course) and half admit to hunching over while working. Around 40 per cent said they regularly work from their bed or sofa. All these factors increase the risk of musculoskeletal injury, with the most common problems experienced being backache and neck ache.
Additionally, nearly half of those interviewed say they work longer hours when at home compared to their primary place of work, and often longer than stated in their contract. Over a prolonged period this can result in increased levels of fatigue and stress.
But there is some good news. The study found that the flexible nature of homeworking means that three out of five people are able to build exercise into their day, and the same proportion say they eat more healthily. Two thirds say they are able to take regular breaks from their work area, which is good for both mental and physical health.
Bupa's home-working health checklist is:
- Work in a room with adequate light so you don’t have to strain your eyes
- Sit in a chair where your feet can reach the floor, or are supported by a footrest
- Ensure your monitor is at least an arm’s length away from you and the top of the monitor is at eye level
- Try to use a hands-free phone line and avoid typing/writing with a phone between your ear and shoulder, as this can lead to neck problems
- Try to break more regularly than you would in an office as your posture is likely to be worse at home, ideally every 20 – 30 minutes
- Make time to stretch out to avoid stiffness, particularly if you spend a long period of time in the same position
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