Scientists Create Grotesque Model of How Office Work Could Affect Body
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A team of experts from the fields of ergonomics, occupational health and professional well-being predicted how offices might change the human body over the next 20 years.
Behavioural Futurist William Higham and a team of experts from the fields of ergonomics, occupational health and professional well-being set out to investigate the effects that office workplaces are having on employee health, DailyMail reported.
Based on surveys of more than 3,000 workers in France, Germany and the UK, the team predicted how offices might change the human body over the next 20 years.
From their findings, which were commissioned by office equipment firm Fellowes, the researchers teamed up with model specialists Helix 3D Ltd to create 'Emma' — a disturbingly distorted life-sized mannequin to illustrate the potential impact of modern workstations on our bodies.
Poor Emma has a permanently hunched posture sitting for hours every day over her desk, dry red eyes from prolonged exposure to a computer screen and sallow skin for spending years trapped under the glare of artificial light.
'The Work Colleague of the Future report shows that employers and workers really need to act now and address the problem of poor workplace health,' said Mr Higham.
'Unless we make radical changes to our working lives, such as moving more, addressing our posture at our desks, taking regular walking breaks or considering improving our workstation setup, our offices are going to make us very sick.'
'As a result, workers in the future could suffer health problems as bad as those we thought we’d left behind in the Industrial Revolution.'
The researchers found that office workers spend an average of six hours sitting at a desk each day.
More than 90 per cent of those surveyed reported being concerned that this was too much time — and 98 per cent fearing such could lead to future health problems.
In the UK, the team found that 90 per cent of office workers reported experiencing health issues that reduced their productivity and almost half suffer from eye strain, sore backs and headaches caused by their workspace.
Work-related sick days cost the economy £77 billion every year.
Furthermore, seven out of ten workers reported turning to medications to combat these problems.
Workstation assessments are a legal requirement across Europe that is intended to promote healthy working.
Despite this, however, the team found that employers may be shirking their responsibilities in this area, with more than a third of employees reporting having not been offered an assessment since starting their current job.
Among those who had asked for their workstations to be improved, 28 per cent reported that their issues were not addressed and 20 per cent said that their bosses simply dismissed the concerns.
'Over time, sitting at a desk all day is going to have profound effect on office workers’ health, both physically and psychologically,' said ergonomics expert and report contributor Stephen Bowden.
'Steps should be taken to ensure normal everyday movements become part of the job. One way to get people moving and reducing the time they sit for is consider more ergonomic furniture in the workplace, such as sit stand desks.'
These, he added, can help to prevent workers from developing long-term health conditions.