Your Office Chair is Killing You

Your office chair is killing you. Really.

That is to say, there is a real and serious link between the amount of time you spend sitting at a desk and your risk of dying.

Not from dying of pulmonary disease, or diabetes, or any of the illnesses you might associate with low levels of activity. There is a direct relationship between the time spent sitting and your risk of early mortality of any cause.

So what can you do about it? Quit your office job and dig ditches all day? The prospect of an early death is more appealing. Get a standing desk? Turns out those aren’t great for your health, either. Lay down and die? Well, apparently, we’re essentially doing that already.

Desk work isn’t going anywhere fast. In fact, sedentary jobs are growing faster than active, physical work.

What needs to happen is a renewed focus on ergonomics, with employers and workers taking steps to make work stations safer. That includes proper posture, frequent breaks, and yes — better office chairs.

When we think of workplace injuries, we tend to imagine construction sites and factories, not offices. But in truth, musculoskeletal disorders are one of the biggest causes of workplace injuries in Ontario. They account for half of all lost-time injuries and affect thousands of workers. Those include muscle sprains, nerve damage, and other issues that arise when you’re stuck in a chair all day.

Implementing ergonomics is more than buying a better chairs (though it certainly doesn’t hurt). As mentioned, part of it involves training workers to take adequate breaks from their desk — and of course ensuring that management allows this.

There are lots of other ways to modify the workplace environment in order to promote health and wellness, including:

  • Keeping frequently-used items within easy reach
  • Sitting with good posture
  • Making sure your monitor is at eye-level
  • Placing a light behind your monitor to reduce contrast

One organization that can help you learn more about ergonomics and implement safer work stations is the Public Services Health & Safety Association. Click here for PSHSA training.

Leave a Reply