08/29/2005

Britain's workers stand for worse conditions than the Victorians

Up to 11 million UK workers could face serious health problems from prolonged
standing at work, and they are offered less protection than employees from the
Victorian era, says a new report from the British Trades Union Congress (TUC).

'Standing problem', which appears in the latest edition of the TUC-backed
health and safety magazine Hazards says that despite calls at the end of the
19th century for action to be taken about the dire health consequences for
London's shop assistants from constant standing the problems are as acute today
as they were in Victorian Times.

Every year over 2 million sick days are lost due to lower limb disorders, with
nearly 200,000 people reporting lower limb ailments caused or made worse by
their job. Workers who spend most of the working day on their feet are at risk
of work-related varicose veins, poor circulation and swelling in the feet and
legs, foot problems, joint damage, heart and circulatory problems and pregnancy
difficulties.

A Hazards survey of UK union national safety officers for the report found
widespread problems caused by standing at work. Unions representing
shopworkers, teachers, library staff, production line workers, warehouse staff,
museum workers, school supervisors, train drivers, printers, hospitality and
casino workers and engineers all reported standing-related health problems
experienced by their members.

The health effects associated with prolonged standing vary with the job -
whether for example, you are stood still, required to lift materials or operate
machinery, or whether you are required to walk some or all the time.

Constant walking, particularly on hard surfaces, can cause progressive damage
to bones in the foot, including the heel. With each step, the heel lands of the
floor with a force of between one and a half and two times a person's body
weight.

The way some jobs are performed can greatly exacerbate strain on joints and
muscles. Badly designed checkouts require retail workers to stand with their
feet fixed while twisting their upper bodies and moving goods. Shopworkers'
union Usdaw estimates that a checkout worker lifts up to two tonnes of goods in
an average four-hour shift.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work