5 Health Risks Employers Need to Know to Protect Their Employees

Conscientious American employers are concerned about the physical health and safety of their workforce. By taking steps to ensure employee health, the employer will benefit by having improved productivity and safety in their office. In a healthy workplace, there will be fewer turnovers of workers and less time will be needed to retrain replacements.

healthy workplace
Image by Julien Gong Min / Flickr

Reduce Respiratory Infections

Any workplace can be a location where airborne infectious diseases are spread from one employee to another. This is particularly true of common respiratory infections such as colds and influenza. There are several steps that employers can take to reduce the risk of employees contracting these respiratory illnesses at work. Educate employees about the ways that respiratory illnesses are spread. Encourage them to wash their hands frequently and to stay home if they have a cold or the flu. Keep bottles of antiseptic hand wash solution available in many locations and encourage employees to use them. A good way to cut down on the incidence of influenza is to have a flu clinic at the workplace so that employees can be vaccinated for their protection.

Healthy Food Options Reduce Obesity and Heart Attack Risks

Any employer who has a cafeteria for workers can take steps to ensure that there are many options available for those workers who wish to maintain a healthy diet. This means that the cafeteria should provide a good selection of dishes prepared with fresh fruits and vegetables and complex carbohydrates. There should not be a big emphasis on foods that promote obesity and circulatory problems such as fried foods. Desserts should include more fresh fruits and fewer pastries in order to promote better employee health.

Regular Exercise Promotes Heart Health

Many employees now work at jobs that require them to sit all day at a computer and when they get home, they tend to get very little exercise. In many countries such as Japan, Korea, and China, employees start the workday with an exercise program. Regular exercise improves the mood and the overall health of workers. An employer in the U.S. that can afford to provide a gymnasium for workers will be providing a valuable health benefit to employees. Regular exercise will reduce the risk of heart attacks.

Provide Good Air Quality to Reduce Lung Disease Risk

Poor air quality due to bad ventilation can cause respiratory problems for workers, especially in workplaces that have a lot of dust or fumes present in the air. These airborne toxins and particles will have short-term and possibly long-term health effects on the employees. In the short term, workers will be less alert and possibly less productive if the air quality is poor. In the long term, workers can suffer serious lung damage including fibrosis, COPD, mesothelioma, and other lung problems that take decades to develop. If the cause of the lung problems can be proven to be related to employer negligence, this can result in huge fines to the employer. Employers should take steps to ensure the air quality for workers is as high as possible.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

Many employees today work in an environment where they must perform the same repetitive motion over and over again hundreds of times in a day. These employees are very vulnerable to causing damage to their muscles, tendons, and nerves. Repetitive stress injuries can occur with those who must work all day at a computer or in other environments where the same motion is repeated many times. Workers who continue to work at these activities despite feeling pain and discomfort can experience serious health problems as a result. Employers can ensure that workers who have developed this problem are allowed more frequent breaks to exercise the affected areas.

About the Author: Sarah Daren is a writer who produces informative articles in relation to health. This article was written to explain health risks in the office environment and to promote further study in this field with a Degree in Occupational Safety and Health.