Tuesday, June 19, 2012

'Screen slaving' workers putting health at risk

UK office workers are putting their mental and physical health at risk by working more than two hours extra each night on their commute and at home, a new survey for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) reveals.

About two-thirds (64 per cent) of the 2,010 office workers polled by the CSP said they continued working on smartphones and other devices after they left the office, and spent an average of two hours 18 minutes doing so. These stints were on top of an average of six hours 22 minutes in front of a screen in the office during their regular working day.

The main reasons cited for doing extra work were to 'ease the pressure of the working day' (35 per cent) and 'too much work to do' (33 per cent).

While 29 per cent of people surveyed said additional work at home helped reduce their overall stress levels, a worrying 24 per cent want their boss to offer counselling services for stress. The survey revealed 53 per cent of those who work at home out of office hours said this had increased in the past two years, but of these people just 8 per cent said their boss was trying to do anything about it.

Physiotherapists are concerned that 'over working' is storing up both physical and mental health problems for the future - particularly since 66 per cent of those surveyed reported suffering job-related ill health such as headaches and back pain. The CSP is concerned that poor posture when using smartphones and other mobile devices - which many people do their additional work on - can lead to back and neck pain.

Fewer than one in four people told the survey that they considered their posture when looking at screens outside of work. Long hours can also contribute to stress-related illness.

The results have been released to coincide with the CSP's Workout at Work Day today when physiotherapy staff across the UK are encouraging people to be more physically active in order to combat stress and avoid musculoskeletal disorders, like back pain.

Dr Helena Johnson, chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: "While doing a bit of extra work at home may seem like a good short-term fix, if it becomes a regular part of your evening routine then it can lead to problems such as back and neck problems, as well as stress-related illness. This is especially the case if you're using handheld devices and not thinking about your posture. Talk with your employer if you are feeling under pressure."

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