Excessive Sitting in the Workplace

Sedentary work: a definition

Sedentary behaviour is defined as anything you do while you are sitting or reclining.

  • Examples of common sedentary behaviours for workers include computer-based tasks, truck driving or operating a crane.

There is no clear definition of excessive occupational sitting exposure. However, sitting for longer than 30 minutes without a mini-break and sitting all day at work (being ‘too busy’ to take a break) are likely to be detrimental to your health.

Prolonged sitting is associated with a range of health problems including:

  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • poor mental health
  • some cancers
  • premature death.

The negative health effects from prolonged sitting are due to:

  • insufficient movement and muscle activity
  • low energy expenditure
  • not moving enough
  • not changing posture enough.

Workplace health and safety issue

We have identified too much sitting as a potential WHS issue based on:

  • a rapidly growing body of scientific evidence on the potential harms and increasing public awareness of these
  • a high proportion of workers with exposure to sitting
  • recent recognition by various national and international authorities of sedentary behaviour as a health concern
  • emerging evidence of effective and feasible risk controls.

Excessive sitting

Sedentary exposure is akin to sun exposure: a little can be helpful but too much can damage your health. More than seven hours overall sedentary behaviour per day is likely to be detrimental to health and therefore considered excessive.

Ways to reduce occupational sitting

When it comes to addressing occupational sitting exposure, your mantra should be ‘reduce and interrupt’.

Examples of interventions

Examples of substituting sitting with non-sedentary tasks include:

  • switching to work on a computer at a standing workstation
  • standing to read a document
  • having a standing or walking meeting
  • standing while talking on the phone
  • walking to deliver a message to a colleague rather than emailing.

Two things to remember:

  • A worker can be physically active and meet the guidelines of at least 2.5–5 hours of moderate intensity or ‘huff and puff’ physical activity per week, and still spend much of their time being sedentary.
  • Health problems caused by prolonged sitting remain even if you exercise vigorously every day, highlighting the fact that excessive sitting and physical inactivity are separate health hazards.

Fatigue in the workplace

Impacts of fatigue in the workplace

Fatigue in the workplace doesn’t only impact on workers’ mental and physical health, it can also impact on the health and safety of those around them.

Fatigue can result in a lack of alertness, slower reactions to signals or situations, and affect a worker’s ability to make good decisions. This can increase the risk of incidents and injury in a workplace, particularly when:

  • operating fixed or mobile high risk plant
  • driving a road vehicle, such as a taxi or courier van
  • working at heights
  • taking part in medical or surgical procedures and settings
  • working with flammable or explosive substances
  • hazardous work, for example electrical work.

Managing fatigue in the workplace

Everyone in the workplace has a work health and safety duty and can help to ensure fatigue doesn’t create a risk to health and safety at work.

Examples of identifying factors that may cause fatigue in the workplace include:

  • consulting workers—managers, supervisors and health and safety representatives—about the impact of workloads and work schedules, including work-related travel and work outside normal hours
  • examining work practices, systems of work and worker records, for example sign in-out sheets
  • reviewing workplace incident data and human resource data.

Examples of control measures for fatigue risks that could be considered include:

  • work scheduling
  • shift work and rosters
  • job demands
  • environmental conditions
  • non-work related factors
  • workplace fatigue policy.

Providing information and training to workers about the factors that can contribute to fatigue and the risks associated with it will help them to not only do their job, but also implement control measures to minimise the risk of fatigue in the workplace.

Training about fatigue and relevant workplace policies should be arranged so it is available to all workers on all shifts.

Once control measures are implemented, they should be monitored and reviewed to make sure they remain effective. Consider implementing trial periods for any new work schedules and encouraging workers to provide feedback on their effectiveness.


Workplace Injuries and Tips for Prevention

What is the most common injuries for Tradies?

Back pain is the most common injury experienced by tradies, as it is the part of the body involved in almost all the tasks that tradies undertake at work. Other common injuries for tradies include:

  • shoulder issues related to repetitive reaching and holding actions with the arms
  • knee injuries related to repetitive bending to the ground
  • ankle sprains related to working on uneven ground.

 

What steps can I take to avoid back pain?

  • work smart – use good positions, good techniques and use the equipment available where possible to reduce strain on your back
  • correct back position for lifting means maintaining the natural curves of the spine, especially a small arch in the lower back, keeping a wide base of support, and keeping the load close to your body
  • ask for help with heavy lifting where required
  • engage in regular risk assessments to ensure the design of the task is as friendly to the back as possible
  • stay fit, flexible and strong enough to do your job.

 

How do I reduce my risk of getting injured at work?

Most injuries to tradies occur as a result of ignoring pain and niggles, rushing at work, improvising with tools or equipment or being distracted by everyday tasks. Tradies can follow a few simple steps to help reduce the chance of injury:

  • take a few minutes when you are about to start a job to think it through. Ask yourself: Is this the best way? Am I using the correct tools for the job? Do I need any help? Is it safe to proceed? If you answer yes to all these questions, get to it. If not, then change something until it is safe to finish the job
  • be mindful of what else is going on in your life and how it can influence your work. Many tradies get hand injuries when their mind is not completely on the job. We all know the dangers of not paying attention while driving—the same goes when swinging a hammer or using a rattle gun.
  • seek advice from your physiotherapist as soon as you feel a niggle. The earlier you see a physiotherapist for even the smallest injury, the quicker it will get better and the less chance your work will be impacted. Your physiotherapist can also give advice on how to prevent it happening in the future

Many tradies have to complete jobs that require either repetitive bending or awkward positions, so flexibility is really important to trades people. Improving flexibility requires regular stretching. Here are some great ones to try:

  • standing hamstring stretch
  • piriformis stretch
  • pec stretch - to reduce the tightness when working on items in front of you all day
  • forearm stretch or massage – to reduce the risk of injury from gripping tools all day.

Dental Health

As a Tradie it’s important to look after your physical wellbeing, but looking after your dental health is just as important.

These are 3 things you can do this Tradie National Health Month to keep your dental health in check.

  • Sugary Food and Drinks
    • Frequent bursts of sugar are one of the main contributors to tooth decay. Check for hidden sugars in fizzy drinks and foods and swap these with healthier options.

 

  • Dry Mouth
    • Did you know the saliva in your mouth protects your teeth? Prolonged periods of having dry mouth increases your risk of tooth decay and wear. Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly.

 

  • Regular Dental Check
    • Regular check ups with a dentist can help with early detection of any dental concerns and keep your teeth healthy.

Farm Safety

We know that it’s been a tough week for many across South Australia and National Farm Safety Week gives us the opportunity to review practices and behaviours to ensure everyone in our farming communities are safe.

Safety issues span the life of a farmer - from childhood right through to older years and include both physical and mental health issues.

For tips on how to reduce the likelihood of injury and fatality on your farm, and where to go to get support if you or something you know is suffering visit: https://www.farmsafe.org.au/


Clean Air. Clean Lungs.

Work processes can release invisible dusts, gases, fumes, vapours, mists and microorganisms into the air.

The air you, your workers and others breathe at work can be hazardous and cause damage to your health. It’s important to understand the hazards at your workplace – whether it’s a construction site, a factory, on a farm or if you work with engineered stone. Your workers may be at risk of developing an occupational lung disease.

Occupational lung diseases are conditions of the respiratory system caused by workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals and dusts.

The Clean Air. Clear Lungs. campaign is run by Safe Work Australia to raise awareness of occupational lung diseases. The national campaign seeks to educate persons conducting a business or undertaking , such as employers or small business owners, on how to eliminate or manage the risk of their workers developing an occupational lung disease.

The campaign includes information on how to identify and assess hazards, how to manage and control risks and how to monitor your workplace. Four key industries most at risk of occupational lung diseases are targeted including:

  • Manufacturing workers can be exposed to hazards in the air that are invisible to the naked eye, such as fumes and dust.
  • Construction workers can be exposed to hazards like dust from concrete and fumes from welding.
  • Engineered stone workers can be exposed to silica dust in all parts of their work process – from preparing and working on the slab, to cleaning up the workplace and disposing of waste.
  • Agricultural workers can be exposed to a range of hazards in the air, such as pesticides, chemicals, and fuels.

What are Toolbox Talks?

What is a Toolbox Talk?

A toolbox talk is a short safety meeting that’s held just before a shift starts. The name ‘toolbox talk’ comes from employees gathering around a toolbox for the meetings, but they’re also known as ‘pre-starts’.

These regular meetings focus on a single aspect of health and safety specific to your work site. The purpose of a toolbox talk is to create a safety discussion and receive feedback from your team.

Topics can be used to pass on important safety information but also work as a prompt for employees to discuss safety and identify potential hazards.

They should be a conversation, so be sure to break the ice and engage them from the start. Ask questions, inject humour or ask them to imagine themselves in certain situations to learn what they would do.

Remember: keep your talk brief, stick to just one topic and make sure it’s applicable to your workplace and team.

Are you new to toolbox talks?

It can be hard to think of topics for your next safety meeting. Sometimes you’re ready to go with a handful of ideas, other times you’re staring at a blank document. Occasionally you’ll find yourself reading a blog post for some last-minute inspiration.

The key to an effective toolbox talk is understanding that it’s a chance to engage with your team. It should not simply be a presentation. It should be a two-way discussion. Your teammates are typically the ones most exposed to risk and have an understanding of what works practically in the real world – so they’re usually the ones with the best ideas!


Frequently Asked Questions part three

This is a continuation of a series of blog posts aims to address some of the commonly asked questions around Safetyminder. If you want more clarity in regards to any of the questions and answers here, or if there is a question in that you have we’d be happy to help so feel free to contact us

Where and When can I access Safetyminder?

All you need is a computer and internet access. As long as you have these you can access Safetyminder 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

Which internet browsers does Safetyminder work with?

Our program can be viewed in Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Apple's Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox, as well as other browsers, but is best viewed in Google Chrome or Firefox.

Is my data on Safetyminder secure?

We utilise some of the most advanced technology for internet security available today. When you access our site using a compatible web browser, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology protects your information using both server authentication and data encryption, ensuring that your data is safe, secure, and available only to registered Users in your organisation.

The data you enter on Safetyminder is also stored in a secure hosting environment. Hence, provided you ensure you and your staff keep your log-in and password details confidential, then outsiders will not be able to get this information. And your staff, contractors and others you have provided with Safetyminder access will only be able to see the data you have allowed them to see as per their respective privileges.


How to create a healthy workplace

Did you know? Employees with poor overall health status are far more likely to be absent from work?

That's why creating and promoting a healthy workplace is beneficial for you.

Creating a healthy workplace requires the bringing together of the policies, practices and systems of human resources, organisational development, work health and safety and health promotion and ensuring an integrated approach to health, safety and wellbeing right across your business, regardless of industry or size.

Incorporating a mix of environmental, organisational and staff centred activities is critical to a creating a culture of care, and ultimately a healthy workplace.

  • Individual behaviour and resources: focusses on the individual needs of workers such as improving access to services and information, and improving knowledge and skills of staff in the areas of physical and mental health and safety and wellbeing.
  • Physical environment: addresses providing a workplace environment and facilities that support a safe and healthy workplace.
  • Organisational policies, programs and practices: applies policies, programs and practices to encourage and support a positive healthy workplace culture.

To help you create a healthy workplace, download the Workplace Health and Wellbeing Toolkit, a step by step guide to developing a successful healthy workplace program.

Four steps to creating a healthy workplace program

Step 1 – Getting started

Good planning and preparation create the foundation of an effective and successful healthy workplace program. To get started you need to gain leadership support and engage workers.

Step 2 – Needs assessment

Do a stocktake. You could begin with a self-audit. What are you already doing? What is your workplace data telling you? Are there unique risks or challenges facing your business or industry? Are you addressing physical and mental health, safety and wellbeing?

Step 3 – Taking action

What actions do you want to take? Determine your priority areas and develop your action plan to set out some key actions you want to take over the coming year. Ensure that your plan will contribute to creating a workplace culture of care. Make sure that you communicate your plans to staff and involve them in the process.

Step 4 – Monitor and review

Think about how you can measure success and monitor and review to make sure your action plan is on track.


What does Safetyminder do for you?

Safety management is not a trending jargon nor is it particularly new; it is a remedy that has always been there. It refers to the management of business activities and the application of principles, processes, and framework that works towards the prevention of accidents, injuries and to lower other risks. With more and more organisations looking for ways to manage their safety responsibilities more effectively, this has led to the invention of a safety management software called Safetyminder.

Safetyminder is a suite of mobile-enabled applications and is user-friendly, which helps organizations improve the culture of safety and protect the workforce within the enterprise. In the current work environment, organizations must ensure the safety of workers and assets by working towards a reduced number of accidents, identification, and mitigation of safety risks, and agreeing with the occupational safety regulations, at the same time as controlling costs.

Safetyminder collects all the data on a centralized web platform, including real-time data collected by use of the mobile devices, to identify job-related hazards that are likely to create risks for illnesses and injuries. And so, a good Work, Health and Safety software program should be able to help in the transformation of the organization by directing it to a path that would lead to improved safety performance.

Why is Work, Health and Safety software important

If you are considering introducing new health and safety software to your company or enterprise, it is important to be informed about its related importance. They include;

Compliance Management

When it comes to safety and health, compliance is the main target, and making use of compliance software is the most effective way to maintain it. A compliance management platform will keep you updated on the risks of non-compliance in real-time and it can also help in keeping the stakeholders always informed and in control.

Reduction of Risk

When you maximize the use of Safetyminder to control risk, your employees, contractors, visitors and the general public will benefit. As a result, the financial and legal security of your business enterprise also benefits.

Effective and Efficient

Safetyminder software makes you aware of every incident if you’re attending an important meeting or you’re out of town. Utilisation of software that logs reports on various incident and safety policies will always provide you with the information you need to execute business decisions.

Simple Governance

Keeping track of dates, targets and the employee’s responsibilities could be a daunting task for managers. You need to allow health and safety software to help in governance issues. Therefore, lower managerial related stress by using the software to track all the details.

Protect your Assets

Since health and safety software can allow you to maintain, maximize and monitor your investments, you should ensure the protection of your assets from a centralized dashboard. You can easily streamline the protection of your asset rather than assigning individuals to micromanage different assets.

Management of People

It can be a hard task to keep track of all the details that are related to contractors, employees, and volunteers. You must monitor their certifications and training, illnesses, manage injuries, and rehabilitation. All these issues should be handled with empathy and grace.
With health and safety software, you can easily keep track of all these details. When all the information is converged in one place, it will be easier for you to monitor the information of every person. Therefore, Safetyminder will assure you such that you won’t feel neglected and you will not worry whether every person has been trained, because you will definitely know.

Therefore, if your organisation is looking to make your workplace a safer environment for everyone. Then Safetyminder will assist you to develop from a reactive position to a proactive position to improve safety within an organisation. To register your interest in Safetyminder go to www.safetyminder.com.au/register/interest