Technology makes everything easier; communication is instant, paperwork is filed in a safe space, and menial jobs can be done at the touch of a button. But is this all technology can offer to the workplace? And is technology necessarily a good thing to have at work? There are a lot of advancements that can make certain jobs easier; construction and factory life have greatly benefitted from technological advances, but increased use of computers in the office could lead to even more health problems. To determine which industries need to incorporate more or less technology, let’s examine its impact on health and safety.
There are a few basic things that employers can do to keep the office space safe for their employees. They can encourage people to keep the space free of clutter to avoid tripping hazards, schedule annual fire drills, and adhere to any rules in the employer’s health and safety procedure guide. However, with more people encouraged to work on computers and laptops, there are other aspects of health and safety that employers must keep an eye on. Too much time in front of the screen can cause eye strain, headaches, and employees could suffer from serious spinal issues if the chair is not appropriate for long-term computer use.
Fortunately, companies can take precautions against back pain, fatigue, and eye strain by getting an ergonomic office chair. These provide the necessary lumbar and pelvic support to promote healthy posture. Good spinal alignment leads to reduced headaches, back pain, and it can significantly improve breathing, concentration, and endurance through long hours of seated task work. You should also reduce eye strain by encouraging employees to take a break every twenty minutes.
It might seem that technology is causing problems in the workplace by putting employees’ health at risk, but in fact, technology is also solving the issues at hand. Ergonomic office chairs are a result of ergonomic technology, and they are just one way that tech can improve health and safety in the office. Sit-to-stand desks and abundant seating options provide basic examples of ergonomic improvements that help prevent injuries from improper support.
Anyone who works in construction has always had to adhere to certain health and safety rule while at work; such as wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) like hard hats, vests, and safety glasses. But since the work is physically demanding, employers need a way to monitor their health as well as their physical safety. Recently, there have been some advancements in wearable technology to monitor the health and safety of workers, and also improves communication. They are typically worn attached to clothing or as part of already-required PPE. The wearables can track biometrics, enable video and voice calls, scan barcodes and even detect exposure limits to harmful elements. Some organisations are even using them to determine if any illnesses among their employees are work-related, and use that information to identify dangerous work environments.
Another aspect of looking after employee’s health is taking care of their mental wellbeing. According to WHO, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. Mental health issues can cause absences at work, reduce productivity, and just lead to some very unhappy employees. Fortunately, healthcare services are now using digital technology to help monitor health, and prevent and treat any problems. One example of how employers are turning to technology to improve workplace health is in the story of a UK rail construction company, Crossrail. They have worked with business psychologists Robertson Cooper, a which has developed an “i-resilience” report and a “Wellbeing Snapshot”. The idea is that staff at Crossrail fill in their own confidential online assessments, which helps managers spot signs of stress.
On a wider scale, some companies are encouraging employees to use exercise as a mood enhancer by offering discounted gym memberships, or using the online trackers on Fitbit to encourage some friendly inter-office competition. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, boost the chemicals in the brain that make us happy, relieve anxiety, and improve self-confidence. It’s fantastic that companies are taking measures to spot mental health issues in their employees, but it’s also great when some provide employees with a solution.
Technology might initially cause some problems for our health, but the increasing developments will always have greater benefits.