Standing at Work

October 7, 2019

In a recent study conducted by the Institute for Work and Health and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, researchers found that workers required to stand for prolonged periods of time had a higher risk of developing heart disease and other health complications than those who sat for prolonged periods of time. Researchers involved in the study now suggest that employers look at ways to combine a healthy balance of sitting, standing, and moving to prevent health problems in their work force.

Jobs that Require Prolonged Standing at Work

There are a variety of jobs that require workers to spend prolonged periods of time standing. These include:

  • Meat and fish cutters
  • Food prep workers
  • Cooks, bakers
  • Dishwashers
  • Servers, Hostesses, Bartenders
  • Cashiers, Retail workers
  • Housekeeping staff
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
  • Hotel desk clerks
  • Stock room employees
  • Nurses, medical assistants, home health aides
  • Lab technicians
  • Physical therapists and surgical technicians
  • Teachers and childcare workers
  • Hair stylists
  • Production line workers
  • Shipping personnel
  • Freight and materials movers
  • Automotive technicians
  • Machine operators

Workers in these industries were shown to have a higher risk of developing health complications and heart disease from poor circulation.

Health Risks Associated with Prolonged Standing

Health risks associated with jobs that require prolonged standing include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Poor circulation
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Varicose veins
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Leg swelling
  • Joint disorders of the hips, knees, ankles, and feet
  • Back and spinal problems
  • Neuropathy
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Pre-term birth
  • Low birth weight

When workers are required to stand for five hours or more during their work shift, the blood flow in the legs begin to slow, creating a dangerous risk for blood clots in the legs. These blood clots can break off and travel, which can lead to deadly pulmonary embolisms.

Preventing Health Problems Associated With Prolonged Standing

While standing for long periods of time may be unavoidable in some industries, employers and workers can prevent injuries and other health complications with a few work-related adjustments:

  • Incorporate frequent break periods where workers can sit down
  • Use of anti-fatigue mats over concrete or wooden floors
  • Combine job duties that require periods of sitting and standing
  • Allow workers to periodically stretch and massage tired muscles
  • Apply ice to areas showing signs of over exertion
  • Use adjustable tables and benches to avoid bending
  • Built-in foot rails or portable foot rests so workers can shift their weight
  • Adjustable seats that allow workers to spend part of their shift sitting
  • Quality footwear
  • Split shifts to shorten prolonged periods of standing
  • Proper training on posture and recognizing symptoms of overexertion

Adjustments to the work area and the hours spent standing will protect the health and well being of employees while promoting efficient productivity.

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